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ooHectKjn of Native North American Indian Books, 
tlSf riC H , Bo °l< s . Atlases, P !us other important au- 
As°of a i n 2 d 3 f f m ^ ^ e,r * 00m kwks. 


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This was a sign of gratitude used when words failed to interpret 

strong emotion 

(See page 89) 








(Hinook • Mahiwi • Kilinaka) 



Boston, U.S.A., and London 
C|)e athenaeum press 

Entered at Stationers’ Hall 

Copyright, 1901 



These legends are relics of our country’s 
once virgin soil. These and many others are 
the tales the little black-haired aborigine loved 
so much to hear beside the night fire. 

For him the personified elements and other 
spirits played in a vast world right around the 
center fire of the wigwam. 

Iktomi, the snare weaver, Iya, the Eater, 
and Old Double-Face are not wholly fanciful 

There were other worlds of legendary folk 
for the young aborigine, such as “ The Star- 
Men of the Sky,” “ The Thunder Birds Blink- 
ing Zigzag Lightning,” and “ The Mysterious 
Spirits of Trees and Flowers.” 

Under an open sky, nestling close to the 
earth, the old Dakota story-tellers have told me 
these legends. In both Dakotas, North and 
South, I have often listened to the same story 
told over again by a new story-teller. 

While I recognized such a legend without the 
least difficulty, I found the renderings varying 


much in little incidents. Generally one helped 
the other in restoring some lost link in the 
original character of the tale. And now I have 
tried to transplant the native spirit of these 
tales — root and all — into the English lan- 
guage, since America in the last few centuries 
has acquired a second tongue. 

The old legends of America belong quite as 
much to the blue-eyed little patriot as to the 
black-haired aborigine. And when they are 
grown tall like the wise grown-ups may they 
not lack interest in a further study of Indian 
folklore, a study which so strongly suggests our 
near kinship with the rest of humanity and 
points a steady finger toward the great brother- 
hood of mankind, and by which one is so forci- 
bly impressed with the possible earnestness of 
life as seen through the teepee door ! If it be 
true that much lies “in the eye of the beholder,” 
then in the American aborigine as in any other 
race, sincerity of belief, though it were based 
upon mere optical illusion, demands a little 

After all he seems at heart much like other 





Iktomi and the Ducks 1 

Iktomi’s Blanket 17 

Iktomi and the Muskrat 25 

Iktomi and the Coyote 35 

Iktomi and the Fawn 45 

The Badger and the Bear 59 

The Tree-Bound 75 

Shooting of the Red Eagle 91 

Iktomi and the Turtle 101 

Dance in a Buffalo Skull Ill 

The Toad and the Boy 117 

Iya, the Camp-Eater 129 

Manstin, the Rabbit 143 

The Warlike Seven 157 



This was a Sign of Gratitude used when Words failed 
to interpret Strong Emotion — Frontispiece 


He sniffed impatiently the Savory Odors ... 12 

“Great-Grandfather, give me Meat to eat!” . 20 

The Muskrat began to feel Awkward .... 28 

A Shower of Red Coals upon Iktomi’s Bare 

Arms and Shoulders 42 

There among them stood Iktomi in Brown 

Buckskins 54 

Over a Bed of Coals she broiled the Venison 64 

He placed the Arrow on the Bow 98 

“My Friend, you are a Skilled Hunter” . . 104 

Tiny Field Mice were singing and dancing . . 114 

A Little Boy stopped his Play among the 

Grasses 124 

The Proud Chieftain rose with a Little Baby 

in his Arms 134 

I am going to the North Country on a Long Hunt 146 

He blew the Water all over the People . . 162 







Iktomi is a spider fairy. He wears 
brown deerskin leggins with long soft 
fringes on either side, and tiny beaded 
moccasins on his feet. His long black 
hair is parted in the middle and wrapped 
with red, red bands. Each round braid 
hangs over a small brown ear and falls 
forward over his shoulders. 

He even paints his funny face with red 

and yellow, and draws big black rings 

around his eyes. He wears a deerskin 

jacket, with bright colored beads sewed 

tightly on it. Iktomi dresses like a real 

Dakota brave. In truth, his paint and 


Old Indian Legends 

deerskins are the best part of him — if 
ever dress is part of man or fairy. 

Iktomi is a wily fellow. His hands are 
always kept in mischief. He prefers to 
spread a snare rather than to earn the 
smallest thing with honest hunting. Why ! 
he laughs outright with wide open mouth 
when some simple folk are caught in a 
trap, sure and fast. 

He never dreams another lives so bright 
as he. Often his own conceit leads him 
hard against the common sense of simpler 

Poor Iktomi cannot help being a little 
imp. And so long as he is a naughty 
fairy, he cannot find a single friend. No 
one helps him when he is in trouble. No 
one really loves him. Those who come to 
admire his handsome beaded jacket and 
long fringed leggins soon go away sick 
and tired of his vain, vain words and 
heartless laughter. 


Iktomi and the Ducks 

Thus Iktomi lives alone in a cone-shaped 
wigwam upon the plain. One day he sat 
hungry within his teepee. Suddenly he 
rushed out, dragging after him his blanket. 
Quickly spreading it on the ground, he 
tore up dry tall grass with both his hands 
and tossed it fast into the blanket. 

Tying all the four corners together in 
a knot, he threw the light bundle of grass 
over his shoulder. 

Snatching up a slender willow stick with 

his free left hand, he started oh with a 

hop and a leap. From side to side bounced 

the bundle on his back, as he ran light- 

footed over the uneven ground. Soon he 

came to the edge of the great level land. 

On the hilltop he paused for breath. With 

wicked smacks of his dry parched lips, as 

if tasting some tender meat, he looked 

straight into space toward the marshy 

river bottom. With a thin palm shading 

his eyes from the western sun, he peered 


Old Indian Legends 

far away into the lowlands, munching 
his own cheeks all the while. “Ah-ha!” 
grunted he, satisfied with what he saw. 

A group of wild ducks were dancing and 
feasting in the marshes. With wings out- 
spread, tip to tip, they moved up and down 
in a large circle. Within the ring, around 
a small drum, sat the chosen singers, nod- 
ding their heads and blinking their eyes. 

They sang in unison a merry dance-song, 
and beat a lively tattoo on the drum. 

Following a winding footpath near by, 
came a bent figure of a Dakota brave. 
He bore on his back a very large bundle. 
With a willow cane he propped himself up 
as he staggered along beneath his burden. 

“Ho! who is there?” called out a 
curious old duck, still bobbing up and 
down in the circular dance. 

Hereupon the drummers stretched their 
necks till they strangled their song for a 

look at the stranger passing by. 


Iktomi and the Ducks 

“ Ho, Iktomi ! Old fellow, pray tell us 
what you carry in your blanket. Do not 
hurry oh ! Stop ! halt ! ” urged one of the 

“ Stop I stay ! Show us what is in your 
blanket!"’ cried out other voices. 

“My friends, I must not spoil your 
dance. Oh, you would not care to see if 
you only knew what is in my blanket. 
Sing on ! dance on ! I must not show 
you what I carry on my hack,” answered 
Iktomi, nudging his own sides with his 
elbows. This reply broke up the ring 
entirely. Now all the ducks crowded 
about Iktomi. 

“We must see what you carry! We 
must know what is in your blanket ! ” they 
shouted in both his ears. Some even 
brushed their wings against the mysteri- 
ous bundle. Nudging himself again, wily 
Iktomi said, “ My friends, ’t is only a pack 

of songs I carry in my blanket.” 


Old Indian Legends 

“Ok ? then let us hear your songs ! ” cried 
the curious ducks. 

At length Iktomi consented to sing his 
songs. With delight all the ducks flapped 
their wings and cried together, u Hoye ! 
lioye ! ’ ’ 

Iktomi, with great care, laid down his 
bundle on the ground. 

“ I will build first a round straw house, 
for I never sing my songs in the open air,” 
said he. 

Quickly he bent green willow sticks, 
planting both ends of each pole into the 
earth. These he covered thick with reeds 
and grasses. Soon the straw hut was 
ready. One by one the fat ducks waddled 
in through a small opening, which was the 
only entrance way. Beside the door Iktomi 
stood smiling, as the ducks, eyeing his 
bundle of songs, strutted into the hut. 

In a strange low voice Iktomi began 

his queer old tunes. All the ducks sat 


Iktomi and the Ducks 

round-eyed in a circle about the mysterious 
singer. It was dim in that straw hut, for 
Iktomi had not forgot to cover up the 
small entrance way. All of a sudden his 
song hurst into full voice. As the startled 
ducks sat uneasily on the ground, Iktomi 
changed his tune into a minor strain. 
These were the words he sang : 

“Istokmus wacipo, tuwayatunwanpi kin- 
han ista nisasapi kta,” which is, “With eyes 
closed you must dance. He who dares to 
open his eyes, forever red eyes shall have.” 

Up rose the circle of seated ducks and 
holding their wings close against their sides 
began to dance to the rhythm of Iktomi’ s 
song and drum. 

With eyes closed they did dance ! Iktomi 
ceased to beat his drum. He began to sing 
louder and faster. He seemed to be mov- 
ing about in the center of the ring. No 
duck dared blink a wink. Each one shut 

his eyes very tight and danced even harder. 


Old Indian Legends 

Up and down ! Shifting to the right of 
them they hopped round and round in that 
blind dance. It was a difficult dance for 
the curious folk. 

At length one of the dancers could close 
his eyes no longer ! It was a Skiska who 
peeped the least tiny blink at Iktomi within 
the center of the circle. “ Oh ! oh ! ” 
squawked he in awful terror ! “ Run ! fly ! 

Iktomi is twisting your heads and breaking 
your necks ! Run out and fly ! fly ! ” he 
cried. Hereupon the ducks opened their 
eyes. There beside Iktomi’ s bundle of songs 
lay half of their crowd — flat on their backs. 

Out they flew through the opening Skiska 
had made as he rushed forth with his alarm. 

But as they soared high into the blue sky 

they cried to one another : “ Oh ! your eyes 

are red-red!” “And yours are red-red!” 

For the warning words of the magic minor 

strain had proven true. “ Ah-ha ! ” laughed 

Iktomi, untying the four corners of his 


Iktomi and the Ducks 

blanket, “ I shall sit no more hungry within 
my dwelling.” Homeward he trudged along 
with nice fat ducks in his blanket. He left 
the little straw hut for the rains and winds 
to pull down. 

Having reached his own teepee on the 
high level lands, Iktomi kindled a large fire 
out of doors. He planted sharp-pointed 
sticks around the leaping flames. On each 
stake he fastened a duck to roast. A few 
he buried under the ashes to bake. Disap- 
pearing within his teepee, he came out again 
with some huge seashells. These were his 
dishes. Placing one under each roasting 
duck, he muttered, “The sweet fat oozing 
out will taste well with the hard-cooked 

Heaping more willows upon the fire, 
Iktomi sat down on thd ground with crossed 
shins. A long chin between his knees 
pointed toward the red flames, while his 

eyes were on the browning ducks. 


Old Indian Legends 

Just above liis ankles be clasped and 
unclasped bis long bony fingers. Now and 
tlien be sniffed impatiently tbe savory odor. 

Tbe brisk wind wliicli stirred tbe fire 
also played witb a squeaky old tree beside 
Iktomi’s wigwam. 

From side to side tbe tree was swaying 
and crying in an old man’s voice, “Help! 
I’ll break! I’ll fall!” Iktomi shrugged 
bis great shoulders, but did not once take 
bis eyes from the ducks. Tbe dripping of 
amber oil into pearly dishes, drop by drop, 
pleased bis hungry eyes. Still the old tree 
man called for help. “ He ! What sound 
is it that makes my ear ache!” exclaimed 
Iktomi, bolding a band on bis ear. 

He rose and looked around. Tbe squeak- 
ing came from tbe tree. Then be began 
clbnbing tbe tree t<3 find tbe disagreeable 
sound. He placed bis foot right on a 
cracked lnnb without seeing it. Just then 

a whiff of wind came rushing by and 


He sniffed impatiently the savory odor 



■ V 

Iktomi and the Ducks 

pressed together the broken edges. There 
in a strong wooden hand Iktomi’ s foot 
was caught. 

“Oh! my foot is crushed!” he howled 
like a coward. In vain he pulled and 
puffed to free himself. 

While sitting a prisoner on the tree he 
spied, through his tears, a pack of gray 
wolves roaming over the level lands. Wav- 
ing his hands toward them, he called in his 
loudest voice, “ He ! Gray wolves ! Don’t 
you come here ! I ’m caught fast in the 
tree so that my duck feast is getting cold. 
Don’t you come to eat up my meal.” 

The leader of the pack upon hearing 
Iktomi’s words turned to his comrades and 
said : 

“Ah! hear the foolish fellow! He says 
he has a duck feast to be eaten ! Let us 
hurry there for our share ! ” Away bounded 
the wolves toward Iktomi’s lodge. 

From the tree Iktomi watched the hungry 


Old Indian Legends 

wolves eat lip his nicely browned fat ducks. 
His foot pained him more and more. He 
heard them crack the small round bones 
with their strong long teeth and eat out 
the oily marrow. Now severe pains shot 
up from his foot through his whole body. 
“Hin-hin-liin ! ” sobbed Iktomi. Real tears 
washed brown streaks across his red-painted 
cheeks. Smacking their bps, the wolves 
began to leave the place, when Iktomi cried 
out like a pouting child, “ At least you have 
left my baking under the ashes !” 

“Ho! po!” shouted the mischievous 
wolves; “he says more ducks are to be 
found under the ashes ! Come ! Let us 
have our fill this once!” 

Running hack to the dead fire, they 
pawed out the ducks with such rude haste 
that a cloud of ashes rose like gray smoke 
over them. 

“Hin-hin-hin !” moaned Iktomi, when 
the wolves had scampered off. All too late, 


Iktomi and the Ducks 

the sturdy breeze returned, and, passing by, 
pulled apart the broken edges of the tree. 
Iktomi was released. But alas ! be bad no 
duck feast. 







Alone within his teepee sat Iktomi. 
The sun was but a hand’s-breadth from 
the western edge of land. 

“ Those bad, bad gray wolves ! They ate 
up all my nice fat ducks!” muttered he, 
rocking his body to and fro. 

He was cuddling the evil memory he bore 
those hungry wolves. At last he ceased 
to sway his body backward and forward, 
but sat still and stiff as a stone image. 

“ Oh ! I ’ll go to Inyan, the great-grand- 
father, and pray for food!” he exclaimed. 

At once he hurried forth from his teepee 
and, with his blanket over one shoulder, 
drew nigh to a huge rock on a hillside. 

With half-crouching, half-running strides, 
he fell upon Inyan with outspread hands. 


Old Indian Legends 

“ Grandfather ! pity me. I am hungry. 
I am starving. Give me food. Great-grand- 
father, give me meat to eat !” he cried. All 
the while he stroked and caressed the face 
of the great stone god. 

The all-powerful Great Spirit, who makes 
the trees and grass, can hear the voice of 
those who pray in many varied ways. The 
hearing of Inyan, the large hard stone, was 
the one most sought after. He was the 
great-grandfather, for he had sat upon the 
hillside many, many seasons. He had seen 
the prairie put on a snow-white blanket and 
then change it for a bright green robe more 
than a thousand times. 

Still unaffected by the myriad moons he 
rested on the everlasting hill, listening to 
the prayers of Indian warriors. Before the 
finding of the magic arrow he had sat 

Now, as Iktomi prayed and wept before 

the great-grandfather, the sky in the 


1 * 




•. -V 


Iktomi' s Blanket 

west was red like a glowing face. The 
sunset poured a soft mellow light upon 
the huge gray stone and the solitary figure 
beside it. It was the smile of the Great 
Spirit upon the grandfather and the way- 
ward child. 

The prayer was heard. Iktomi knew it. 
“Now, grandfather, accept my offering; 
’t is all I have,” said Iktomi as he spread 
his half-worn blanket upon Inyan’s cold 
shoulders. Then Iktomi, happy with the 
smile of the sunset sky, followed a foot- 
path leading toward a thicketed ravine. 
He had not gone many paces into the 
shrubbery when before him lay a freshly 
wounded deer ! 

“This is the answer from the red western 
sky!” cried Iktomi with hands uplifted. 

Slipping a long thin blade from out his 

belt, he cut large chunks of choice meat. 

Sharpening some willow sticks, he planted 

them around a wood-pile he had ready to 


Old Indian Legends 

kindle. On these stakes he meant to roast 
the venison. 

While he was rubbing briskly two long 
sticks to start a fire, the sun in the west 
fell out of the sky below the edge of land. 
Twilight was over all. Iktomi felt the cold 
night air upon his bare neck and shoulders. 
“ Ough ! ” he shivered as he wiped his knife 
on the grass. Tucking it in a beaded case 
hanging from his belt, Iktomi stood erect, 
looking about. He shivered again. “ Ough ! 
Ah ! I am cold. I wish I had my blanket ! ” 
whispered he, hovering over the pile of dry 
sticks and the sharp stakes round about it. 
Suddenly he paused and dropped his hands 
at his sides. 

“ The old great-grandfather does not fee] 

the cold as I do. He does not need my old 

blanket as I do. I wish I had not given it 

to him. Oh ! I think I ’ll run up there 

and take it back!” said he, pointing his 

long chin toward the large gray stone. 


Iktomi' s Blanket 

Iktomi, in the warm sunshine, had no 
need of his blanket, and it had been very 
easy to part with a thing which he could 
not miss. But the chilly night wind quite 
froze his ardent thank-offering. 

Thus running up the hillside, his teeth 
chattering all the way, he drew near to 
Inyan, the sacred symbol. Seizing one cor- 
ner of the half-worn blanket, Iktomi pulled 
it off with a jerk. 

“ Give my blanket back, old grandfather ! 

You do not need it. I do ! ” This was very 

wrong, yet Iktomi did it, for his wit was not 

wisdom. Drawing the blanket tight over 

his shoulders, he descended the hill with 

hurrying feet. 


He was soon upon the edge of the ravine. 
A young moon, like a bright bent bow, 
climbed up from the southwest horizon a 
little way into the sky. 

In this pale light Iktomi stood motion- 
less as a ghost amid the thicket. His wood- 


Old Indian Legends 

pile was not yet kindled. His pointed stakes 
were still bare as be bad left them. But 
where was tbe deer — the venison be bad 
felt warm in bis bands a moment ago? It 
was gone. Only tbe dry rib bones lay on 
tbe ground like giant fingers from an open 
grave. Iktomi was troubled. At length, 
stooping over tbe white dried bones, be took 
hold of one and shook it. Tbe bones, loose 
in their sockets, rattled together at his 
touch. Iktomi let go his bold. He sprang 
back amazed. And though he wore a 
blanket his teeth chattered more than ever. 
Then his blunted sense will surprise you, lit- 
tle reader ; for instead of being grieved that 
he had taken back his blanket, he cried 
aloud, “Hin-hin-hin ! If only I had eaten 
the venison before going for my blanket!” 

Those tears no longer moved the hand 
of the Generous Giver. They were selfish 
tears. The Great Spirit does not heed 
them ever. 





Beside a white lake, beneath a large 
grown willow tree, sat Iktomi on the bare 
ground. The heap of smouldering ashes 
told of a recent open fire. With ankles 
crossed together around a pot of soup, 
Iktomi bent over some delicious boiled fish. 

Fast he dipped his black horn spoon into 
the soup, for he was ravenous. Iktomi had 
no regular meal times. Often when he was 
hungry he went without food. 

Well hid between the lake and the wild 
rice, he looked nowhere save into the pot 
of fish. Not knowing when the next meal 
would be, he meant to eat enough now to 
last some time. 

“How, how, my friend!” said a voice 
out of the wild rice. Iktomi started. He 


Old Indian Legends 

almost choked with his soup. He peered 
through the long reeds from where he sat 
with his long horn spoon in mid-air. 

“ How, my friend ! ” said the voice again, 
this time close at his side. Iktomi turned 
and there stood a dripping muskrat who 
had just come out of the lake. 

“Oh, it is my friend who startled me. 
I wondered if among the wild rice some 
spirit voice was talking. How, how, my 
friend ! ” said Iktomi. The muskrat stood 
smiling. On Iris lips hung a ready “ Yes, 
my friend,” when Iktomi would ask, “ My 
friend, will you sit down beside me and 
share my food?” 

That was the custom of the plains people. 
Yet Iktomi sat silent. He hummed an old 
dance-song and beat gently on the edge of 
the pot with his buffalo-horn spoon. The 
muskrat began to feel awkward before such 
lack of hospitality and wished himself under 


- V. 

The muskrat began to feel awkward 

Iktomi and the Muskrat 

After many heart throbs Iktomi stopped 
drumming with his horn ladle, and looking 
upward into the muskrat’s face, he said : 

“ My friend, let us run a race to see who 
shall win this pot of fish. If I win, I shall 
not need to share it with you. If you win, 
you shall have half of it.” Springing to 
his feet, Iktomi began at once to tighten 
the belt about his waist. 

66 My friend Ikto, I cannot run a race 
with you ! I am not a swift runner, and 
you are nimble as a deer. We shall not 
run any race together,” answered the hun- 
gry muskrat. 

For a moment Iktomi stood with a hand 
on his long protruding chin. His eyes were 
fixed upon something in the air. The 
muskrat looked out of the corners of his 
eyes without moving his head. He watched 
the wily Iktomi concocting a plot. 

“Yes, yes,” said Iktomi, suddenly turn- 
ing his gaze upon the unwelcome visitor; 


Old Indian Legends 

“ I shall carry a large stone on my back. 
That will slacken my usual speed ; and the 
race will be a fair one.” 

Saying this he laid a firm hand upon the 
muskrat’s shoulder and started off along 
the edge of the lake. When they reached 
the opposite side Iktomi pried about in 
search of a heavy stone. 

He found one half-buried in the shallow 
water. Pulling it out upon dry land, he 
wrapped it in his blanket. 

“ Now, my friend, you shall run on the 
left side of the lake, I on the other. The 
race is for the boiled fish in yonder kettle ! ” 
said Iktomi. 

The muskrat helped to lift the heavy 
stone upon Iktomi’ s back. Then they 
parted. Each took a narrow path through 
the tall reeds fringing the shore. Iktomi 
found his load a heavy one. Perspiration 
hung like beads on his brow. His chest 

heaved hard and fast. 


Iktomi and the Muskrat 

He looked across the lake to see how far 
the muskrat had gone, but nowhere did he 
see any sign of him. “ Well, he is running 
low under the wild rice ! ” said he. Yet as 
he scanned the tall grasses on the lake 
shore, he saw not one stir as if to make 
way for the runner. “Ah, has he gone so 
fast ahead that the disturbed grasses in 
his trail have quieted again?” exclaimed 
Iktomi. With that thought he quickly 
dropped the heavy stone. “No more of 
this ! ” said he, patting his chest with both 

Oft* with a springing hound, he ran swiftly 
toward the goal. Tufts of reeds and grass 
fell flat under his feet. Hardly had they 
raised their heads when Iktomi was many 
paces gone. 

Soon he reached the heap of cold ashes. 

Iktomi halted stiff as if he had struck an 

invisible cliff. His black eyes showed a 

ring of wdiite about them as he stared at 


Old Indian Legends 

the empty ground. There was no pot of 

boiled fish ! There was no water-man in 

sight ! “ Oh, if only I had shared my food 

like a real Dakota, I would not have lost 

it all ! Why did I not know the muskrat 

would run through the water? He swims 

faster than I could ever run ! That is 

what he has done. He has laughed at me 

for carrying a weight on my back while he 

shot hither like an arrow ! ’ ’ 

Crying thus to himself, Iktomi stepped 

to the water s brink. He stooped forward 

with a hand on each bent knee and peeped 

far into the deep water. 

“ There ! ” he exclaimed, “ I see you, my 

friend, sitting with your ankles wound 

around my little pot of fish ! My friend, 

I am hungry. Give me a hone ! ” 

“ Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” laughed the water-man, 

the muskrat. The sound did not rise up 

out of the lake, for it came down from 

overhead. With Ins hands still on his 


Iktomi and the Muskrat 

knees, Iktomi turned his face upward into 
the great willow tree. Opening wide his 
mouth he begged, “ My friend, my friend, 
give me a bone to gnaw!” 

“ Ha ! ha ! ” laughed the muskrat, and 
leaning over the limb he sat upon, he let 
fall a small sharp bone which dropped right 
into Iktomi’ s throat. Iktomi almost choked 
to death before he could get it out. In the 
tree the muskrat sat laughing loud. “ Next 
time, say to a visiting friend, 4 Be seated 
beside me, my friend. Let me share with 
you my food.’ ” 





Afar off upon a large level land, a sum- 
mer sun was shining bright. Here and there 
over the rolling green were tall bunches of 
coarse gray weeds. Iktomi in his fringed 
buckskins walked alone across the prairie 
with a black bare head glossy in the sun- 
light. He walked through the grass with- 
out following any well-worn footpath. 

From one large bunch of coarse weeds to 
another he wound his way about the great 
plain. He lifted his foot lightly and placed 
it gently forward like a wildcat prowling 
noiselessly through the thick grass. He 
stopped a few steps away from a very large 
bunch of wild sage. From shoulder to 
shoulder he tilted his head. Still farther 
he bent from side to side, first low over 

Old Indian Legends 

one hip and then over the other. Far for- 
ward he stooped, stretching his long thin 
neck like a duck, to see what lav under 
a fur coat beyond the bunch of coarse 

A sleek gray-faced prairie wolf ! his 
pointed black nose tucked in between his 
four feet drawn snugly together ; his hand- 
some bushy tail wound over his nose and 
feet ; a coyote fast asleep in the shadow of 
a bunch of grass ! — this is what Iktomi 
spied. Carefully he raised one foot and cau- 
tiously reached out with his toes. Gently, 
gently he lifted the foot behind and placed 
it before the other. Thus he came nearer 
and nearer to the round fur ball lying 
motionless under the sage grass. 

Now Iktomi stood beside it, looking at 

the closed eyelids that did not quiver the 

least bit. Pressing his bps into straight 

lines and nodding his head slowly, he bent 

over the wolf. He held his ear close to 


Iktomi and the Coyote 

the coyote’s nose, but not a breath of air 
stirred from it. 

“Dead !” said be at last. “Dead, but not 
long since be ran over these plains ! See ! 


there in bis paw is caught a fresh feather. 
He is nice fat meat ! ” Taking hold of the 
paw with the bird feather fast on it, he 
exclaimed, “Why, he is still warm! I’ll 
carry him to my dwelling and have a roast 
for my evening meal. Ah-ha !” he laughed, 
as he seized the coyote by its two fore paws 
and its two hind feet and swung him over 
head across his shoulders. The wolf was 
large and the teepee was far across the 
prairie. Iktomi trudged along with his bur- 
den, smacking his hungry lips together. He 
blinked his eyes hard to keep out the salty 
perspiration streaming down his face. 

All the while the coyote on his back lay 
gazing into the sky with wide open eyes. 
His long white teeth fairly gleamed as he 
smiled and smiled. 


Old Indian Legends 

u To ride on one’s own feet is tiresome, 
but to be carried bke a warrior from a 
brave fight is great fun ! ’ ’ said the coyote 
in his heart. Tie had never been borne on 
any one’s back before and the new experi- 
ence delighted him. He lay there lazily on 
Iktomi’s shoulders, now and then blinking 
blue winks. Did you never see a birdie 
blink a blue wink ? This is how it first 
became a saying among the plains people. 
When a bird stands aloof watching your 
strange ways, a thin bluish white tissue 
slips quickly over Iris eyes and as quickly 
off again ; so quick that you think it was 
only a mysterious blue wink. Sometimes 
when children grow drowsy they blink blue 
winks, while others who are too proud to 
look with friendly eyes upon people blink 
in this cold bird-manner. 

The coyote was affected by both sleepi- 
ness and pride. His winks were almost 
as blue as the sky. In the midst of his 


Iktomi and the Coyote 

new pleasure the swaying motion ceased. 
Iktomi had reached his dwelling place. The 
coyote felt drowsy no longer, for in the next 
instant he was slipping out of Iktomi’ s 
hands. He was falling, falling through 
space, and then he struck the ground with 
such a bump he did not wish to breathe for 
a while. He wondered what Iktomi would 
do, thus he lay still where he fell. Hum- 
ming a dance-song, one from his bundle of 
mystery songs, Iktomi hopped and darted 
about at an imaginary dance and feast. 
He gathered dry willow sticks and broke 
them in two against his knee. He built a 
large fire out of doors. The flames leaped 
up high in red and yellow streaks. Now 
Iktomi returned to the coyote who had been 
looking on through his eyelashes. 

Taking him again by his paws and hind 

feet, he swung him to and fro. Then as 

the wolf swung toward the red flames, 

Iktomi let him go. Once again the coyote 


Old Indian Legends 

fell through space. Hot air smote his nos- 
trils. He saw red dancing fire, and now he 
struck a bed of cracking embers. With a 
quick turn he leaped out of the flames. 
From his heels were scattered a shower of 
red coals upon Iktomi’s bare arms and 
shoulders. Dumfounded, Iktomi thought 
he saw a spirit walk out of his fire. His 
jaws fell apart. He thrust a palm to Ins 
face, hard over his mouth ! He could scarce 
keep from shrieking. 

Rolling over and over on the grass and 
rubbing the sides of his head against the 
ground, the coyote soon put out the fire on 
his fur. Iktomi’s eyes were almost ready 
to jump out of his head as he stood cooling 
a burn on his brown arm with his breath. 

Sitting on his haunches, on the opposite 
side of the fire from where Iktomi stood, 
the coyote began to laugh at him. 

“ Another day, my friend, do not take 
too much for granted. Make sure the 



A shower of red coals upon Iktomi’s bare arms and shoulders 


Iktomi and the Coyote 

enemy is stone dead before you make a 
fire ! ” 

Then off he ran so swiftly that his long 
bushy tail hung out in a straight line with 
his back. 






In one of his wanderings through the 
wooded lands, Iktomi saw a rare bird sit- 
ting high in a tree-top. Its long fan-like 
tail feathers had caught all the beautiful 
colors of the rainbow. Handsome in the 
glistening summer sun sat the bird of rain- 
bow plumage. Iktomi hurried hither with 
his eyes fast on the bird. 

He stood beneath the tree looking long 
and wistfully at the peacock’s bright feath- 
ers. At length he heaved a sigh and 
began : “ Oh, I wish I had such pretty 
feathers ! How I wish I w r ere not I ! If 
only I were a handsome feathered creature 
how happy I would be ! I ’d be so glad to 
sit upon a very high tree and bask in the 

summer sun like you!” said he suddenly, 


Old Indian Legends 

pointing liis bony finger np toward the 

peacock, who was eyeing the stranger below, 

turning his head from side to side. 

“ I beg of you make me into a bird with 

green and purple feathers like yours ! ” 

implored Iktomi, tired now of playing the 

brave in beaded buckskins. The peacock 

then spoke to Iktomi : “ I have a magic 

power. My touch will change you in a 

moment into the most beautiful peacock if 

you can keep one condition.” 

“Yes! yes!” shouted Iktomi, jumping 

up and down, patting his lips with his 

palm, which caused his voice to vibrate in 

a peculiar fashion. “ Yes ! yes ! I could 

keep ten conditions if only you would 

change me into a bird with long, bright 

tail feathers. Oh, I am so ugly ! I am so 

tired of being myself ! Change me ! Do ! ” 

Hereupon the peacock spread out both his 

wings, and scarce moving them, he sailed 

slowly down upon the ground. Right beside 


Iktomi and the Fawn 

Iktomi he alighted. Very low in Iktomi’ s 
ear the peacock whispered, “ Are you willing 
to keep one condition, though hard it be ? ” 

“ Yes ! yes ! I ’ve told you ten of them 
if need be ! ” exclaimed Iktomi, with some 

“ Then I pronounce you a handsome 
feathered bird. No longer are you Iktomi 
the mischief-maker.” Saying this the pea- 
cock touched Iktomi with the tips of his 

Iktomi vanished at the touch. There 
stood beneath the tree two handsome pea- 
cocks. While one of the pair strutted about 
with a head turned aside as if dazzled by his 
own bright-tinted tail feathers, the other 
bird soared slowly upward. He sat quiet 
and unconscious of his gay plumage. He 
seemed content to perch there on a large 
limb in the warm sunshine. 

After a little while the vain peacock, 

dizzy with his bright colors, spread out his 


Old Indian Legends 

wings and lit on the same branch with the 
elder bird. 

“Oh!” he exclaimed, “how hard to fly! 
Brightly tinted feathers are handsome, but 
I wish they were light enough to fly ! ” 
Just there the elder bird interrupted him. 
“That is the one condition. Never try to 
fly like other birds. Upon the day you 
try to fly you shall be changed into your 
former self.” 

“Oh, what a shame that bright feathers 
cannot fly into the sky ! ” cried the peacock. 
Already he grew restless. He longed to 
soar through space. He yearned to fly 
above the trees high upward to the sun. 

“Oh, there I see a flock of birds flying 
thither ! Oh ! oh ! ” said he, flapping his 
wings, “ I must try my wings ! I am tired 
of bright tail feathers. I want to try 
my wings.” 

“No, no ! ” clucked the elder bird. The 
flock of chattering birds flew by with 


Iktomi and the Fawn 

whirring wings. “Oop ! bop ! ” called some 
to their mates. 

Possessed by an irrepressible impulse the 
Iktomi peacock called out, “ He ! I want 
to come ! Wait for me ! ” and with that he 
gave a lunge into the air. The flock of 
flying feathers wheeled about and lowered 
over the tree whence came the peacock’s 
cry. Only one rare bird sat on the tree, 
and beneath, on the ground, stood a brave 
in brown buckskins. 

“I am my old self again!” groaned 
Iktomi in a sad voice. “ Make me over, 
pretty bird. Try me this once again ! ” 
he pleaded in vain. 

“Old Iktomi wants to fly! Ah! We 
cannot wait for him ! ” sang the birds as 
they flew away. 

Muttering unhappy vows to himself, Ik- 
tomi had not gone far when he chanced 
upon a bunch of long slender arrows. One 
by one they rose in the air and shot a 


Old Indian Legends 

straight line over the prairie. Others shot 
up into the blue sky and were soon lost to 
sight. Only one was left. He was mak- 
ing ready for his flight when Iktomi rushed 
upon him and wailed, a I want to be an 
arrow ! Make me into an arrow ! I want 
to pierce the blue Blue overhead. I want 
to strike yonder summer sun in its center. 
Make me into an arrow ! ” 

“Can you keep a condition? One con- 
dition, though hard it be?” the arrow 
turned to ask. 

“ Yes ! yes ! ” shouted Iktomi, delighted. 

Hereupon the slender arrow tapped him 
gently with his sharp flint beak. There 
was no Iktomi, hut two arrows stood ready 
to fly. “ Now, young arrow, this is the 
one condition. Your flight must always 
be in a straight line. Never turn a curve 
nor jump about like a young fawn,” said 
the arrow magician. He spoke slowly and 


Iktomi and the Fawn 

At once lie set about to teach the new 
arrow how to shoot in a long straight 

u This is the way to pierce the Blue over- 
head/’ said he ; and oh he spun high into 
the sky. 

While he was gone a herd of deer came 
trotting by. Behind them played the young 
fawns together. They frolicked about like 
kittens. They bounced on all fours like 
balls. Then they pitched forward, kicking 
their heels in the air. The Iktomi arrow 
watched them so happy on the ground. 
Looking quickly up into the sky, he said in 
his heart, u The magician is out of sight. 
I ’ll just romp and frolic with these fawns 
until he returns. Fawns ! Friends, do 
not fear me. I want to jump and leap 
with you. I long to be happy as you are,” 
said he. The young fawns stopped with 
stiff legs and stared at the speaking arrow 

with large brown wondering eyes. “ See ! 


Old Indian Legends 

I can jump as well as you ! ” went on 
Iktomi. He gave one tiny leap like a fawn. 
All of a sudden the fawns snorted with 
extended nostrils at what they beheld. 
There among them stood Iktomi in brown 
buckskins, and the strange talking arrow 
was gone. 

“Oh ! I am myself. My old self ! ” cried 
Iktomi, pinching himself and plucking 
imaginary pieces out of his jacket. 

“ Hin-hin-hin ! I wanted to fly ! 

The real arrow now returned to the earth. 
He alighted very near Iktomi. From the 
high sky he had seen the fawns playing on 
the green. He had seen Iktomi make his 
one leap, and the charm was broken. 
Iktomi became his former self. 

“Arrow, my friend, change me once 
more ! ” begged Iktomi. 

“No, no more,” replied the arrow. Then 
away he shot through the air in the direc- 
tion his comrades had flown. 


There among them stood Iktomi in brown buckskins 

Iktomi and the Fawn 

By this time the fawns gathered close 
around Iktomi. They poked their noses 
at him trying to know who he was. 

Iktomi’ s tears were like a spring shower. 
A new desire dried them quickly away. 
Stepping boldly to the largest fawn, he 
looked closely at the little brown spots all 
over the furry face. 

“ Oh, fawn ! What beautiful brown spots 
on your face ! Fawn, dear little fawn, can 
you tell me how those brown spots were 
made on your face?” 

“Yes,” said the fawn. “When I was 

very, very small, my mother marked them 

on my face with a red hot fire. She dug a 

large hole in the ground and made a soft 

bed of grass and twigs in it. Then she 

placed me gently there. She covered me 

over with dry sweet grass and piled dry 

cedars on top. From a neighbor’s fire she 

brought hither a red, red ember. This she 

tucked carefully in at my head. This is 


Old Indian Legends 

how the brown spots were made on my 

“ Now, fawn, my friend, will yon do the 
same for me ? Won’t you mark my face 
with brown, brown spots just like yours?” 
asked Iktomi, always eager to be like other 

“ Yes. I can dig the ground and fill it 
with dry grass and sticks. If }~ou will 
jump into the pit, I ’ll cover you with 
sweet smelling grass and cedar wood,” 
answered the fawn. 

“ Say,” interrupted Ikto, “ will you be 
sure to cover me with a great deal of dry 
grass and twigs ? You will make sure that 
the spots will he as brown as those you 

“Oh, yes. I ’ll pile up grass and willows 
once oftener than my mother did.” 

“ Now let us dig the hole, pull the 
grass, and gather sticks,” cried Iktomi in 


Iktomi and the Fawn 

Thus with his own hands he aids in 
making his grave. After the hole was dug 
and cushioned with grass, Iktomi, mut- 
tering something about brown spots, leaped 
down into it. Lengthwise, flat on his back, 
he lay. While the fawn covered him over 
with cedars, a far-away voice came up 
through them, “ Brown, brown spots to 
wear forever ! ” A red ember was tucked 
under the dry grass. Off scampered the 
fawns after their mothers ; and when a 
great distance away they looked backward. 
They saw a blue smoke rising, writhing 
upward till it vanished in the blue ether. 

“Is that Iktomi’s spirit?” asked one 
fawn of another. 

“ No ! I think he would jump out before 
he could burn into smoke and cinders,” 
answered his comrade. 





On the edge of a forest there lived a 
large family of badgers. In the ground 
their dwelling was made. Its walls and 
roof were covered with rocks and straw. 

Old father badger was a great hunter. 
He knew well how to track the deer and 
buffalo. Every day he came home carry- 
ing on his back some wild game. This 
kept mother badger very busy, and the 
baby badgers very chubby. While the well- 
fed children played about, digging little 
make-believe dwellings, their mother hung 
thin sliced meats upon long willow racks. 
As fast as the meats were dried and sea- 
soned by sun and wind, she packed them 
carefully away in a large thick bag. 

This bag was like a huge stiff envelope, 

but far more beautiful to see, for it was 


Old Indian Legends 

painted all over with many bright colors. 
These firmly tied bags of dried meat were 
laid upon the rocks in the walls of the 
dwelling. In this way they were both 
useful and decorative. 

One day father badger did not go off for 
a hunt. He stayed at home, making new 
arrows. His children sat about him on the 
ground floor. Their small black eyes danced 
with delight as they watched the gay colors 
painted upon the arrows. 

All of a sudden there was heard a heavy 
footfall near the entrance way. The oval- 
shaped door-frame was pushed aside. In 
stepped a large black foot with great big 
claws. Then the other clumsy foot came 
next. All the while the baby badgers stared 
hard at the unexpected comer. After the 
second foot, in peeped the head of a big 
black hear ! His black nose was dry and 
parched. Silently he entered the dwelling 

and sat down on the ground by the doorway. 


The Badger and the Bear 

His black eyes never left the painted bags 
on the rocky walls. He guessed what was 
in them. He was a very hungry bear. See- 
ing the racks of red meat hanging in the 
yard, he had come to visit the badger family. 

Though he was a stranger and his strong 
paws and jaws frightened the small badgers, 
the father said, “How, how, friend ! Your 
lips and nose look feverish and hungry. 
Will you eat with us ? ” 

“Yes, my friend,” said the bear. “I am 
starved. I saw your racks of red fresh meat, 
and knowing your heart is kind, I came 
hither. Give me meat to eat, my friend.” 

Hereupon the mother badger took long 
strides across the room, and as she had to 
pass in front of the strange visitor, she 
said : “Ah han ! Allow me to pass ! ” which 
was an apology. 

“How, how!” replied the bear, drawing 
himself closer to the wall and crossing his 
shins together. 


Old Indian Legends 

Mother badger chose the most tender red 
meat, and soon over a bed of coals she 
broiled the venison. 

That day the bear had all he could eat. 
At nightfall he rose, and smacking his lips 
together, — that is the noisy way of saying 
“the food was very good!” — he left the 
badger dwelling. The baby badgers, peep- 
ing through the door-flap after the shaggy 
bear, saw him disappear into the woods 
near by. 

Day after day the crackling of twigs in 
the forest told of heavy footsteps. Out' 
would come the same black bear. He 
never lifted the door-flap, but thrusting it 
aside entered slowly in. Always in the 
same place by the entrance way he sat 
down with crossed shins. 

His daily visits were so regular that 
mother badger placed a fur rug in his 
place. She did not wish a guest in her 
dwelling to sit upon the bare hard ground. 


Over a bed of coals she broiled the venison 


The Badger and the Bear 

At last one time when the bear returned, > 
his nose was bright and black. His coat 
was glossy. He had grown fat upon the 
badger’s hospitality. 

As he entered the dwelling a pair of 
wicked gleams shot out of his shaggy head. 
Surprised by the strange behavior of the 
guest who remained standing upon the rug, 
leaning his round back against the wall, 
father badger queried: “How, my friend! 
What ? ” 

The bear took one stride forward and 
shook his paw in the badger’s face. He 
said : “ I am strong, very strong ! ” 

“Yes, yes, so you are,” replied the bad- 
ger. From the farther end of the room 
mother badger muttered over her bead 
work : “Yes, you grew strong from our 
well-filled bowls.” 

The bear smiled, showing a row of large 
sharp teetb, 

“ I have no dwelling. I have no bags of 


Old Indian Legends 

dried meat. I have no arrows. All these 
I have found here on this spot,” said he, 
stamping his heavy foot. “I want them ! 
See! I am strong!" repeated he, lifting 
both his terrible paws. 

Quietly the father badger spoke : “I fed 
yon. I called von friend, though von came 
here a stranger and a beggar. For the 
sake of my little ones leave us in peace." 

Mother badger, in her excited way, had 
pierced hard through the buckskin and stuck 
her fingers repeat edly with her sharp awl 
until she had laid aside her work. Now, 
while her husband was talking to the bear, 
she motioned with her hands to the children. 
On tiptoe they hastened to her side. 

For reply came a low growl. It grew 

louder and more fierce. “TTa-ough!" he 

roared, and bv force hurled the badgers 

out. First the father badger ; then the 

mother. The little badgers he tossed by 

pairs. He threw them hard upon the 


The Badger and the Bear 

ground. Standing in the entrance way 
and showing his ugly teeth, he snarled, 
“Be gone ! ” 

The father and mother badger, having 
gained their feet, picked up their kicking 
little babes, and, wailing aloud, drew the 
air into their flattened lungs till they could 
stand alone upon their feet. No sooner had 
the baby badgers caught their breath than 
they howled and shrieked with pain and 
fright. Ah ! what a dismal cry was theirs 
as the whole badger family went forth wail- 
ing from out their own dwelling ! A little 
distance away from their stolen house the 
father badger built a small round hut. He 
made it of bent willows and covered it with 
dry grass and twigs. 

This was shelter for the night ; but alas ! 
it was empty of food and arrows. All day 
father badger prowled through the forest, 
but without his arrows he could not get 
food for his children. Upon his return, 


Old Indian Legends 

the cry of the little ones for meat, the sad 
quiet of the mother with bowed head, hurt, 
him like a poisoned arrow wound. 

“I ’ll beg; meat for you ! ” said he in an 

O v 

unsteady voice. Covering* his head and 


entire body in a long* loose robe he halted 

%J O 

beside the big black bear. The hear was 
slicing red meat to hang upon the rack. 
He did not pause for a look at the comer. 
As the badger stood there unrecognized, he 
saw that the bear had brought with him 
his whole family. Little cubs played under 
the high-hanging new meats. They laughed 
and pointed with their wee noses upward at 
the thin sliced meats upon the poles. 

“ Have you no heart, Black Bear ? My 
children are starving. Give me a small 
piece of meat for them,” begged the badger. 

“ M r a-ough ! ” growled the angry hear, and 
pounced upon the badger. “ Be gone ! ” 
said he, and with his big hind foot he sent 
father badger sprawling on the ground. 

The Badger and the Bear 

All the little ruffian hears hooted and 
shouted “ ha-ha!” to see the beggar fall 
upon his face. There was one, however, who 
did not even smile. He was the youngest 
cub. His fur coat was not as black and 
glossy as those his elders wore. The hair 
was dry and dingy. It looked much more 
like kinky wool. He was the ugly cub. Poor 
little baby hear ! he had always been laughed 
at by his older brothers. He could not help 
being himself. He could not change the dif- 
ferences between himself and his brothers. 
Thus again, though the rest laughed aloud 
at the badger’s fall, he did not see the joke. 
His face was long and earnest. In his heart 
he was sad to see the badgers crying and 
starving. In his breast spread a burning 
desire to share his food with them. 

“ I shall not ask my father for meat to 
give away. He would say ‘ No ! ’ Then 
my brothers would laugh at me,” said the 
ugly baby bear to himself. 


Old Indian Legends 

In an instant, as if his good intention had 
passed from him, he was singing happily 
and skipping around his father at work. 
Singing in his small high voice and drag- 
ging his feet in long strides after him, as if 
a prankish spirit oozed out from his heels, 
he strayed off through the tall grass. He 
wrns ambling toward the small round hut. 
When directly in front of the entrance way, 
he made a quick side kick with his left hind 
leg. Lo ! there fell into the badger’s hut a 
piece of fresh meat. It was tough meat, 
full of sinews, yet it was the only piece he 
could take without his father’s notice. 

Thus having given meat to the hungry 
badgers, the ugly baby bear ran quickly 
away to his father again. 

On the following day the father badger 

O 1/ o 

came back once more. He stood watching 
the big bear cutting thin slices of meat. 

“ Give — ” he began, when the bear turn- 
ing upon him with a growl, thrust him 


The Badger and the Bear 

cruelly aside. The badger fell on his hands. 
He fell where the grass was wet with the 
blood of the newly carved buffalo. His 
keen starving eyes caught sight of a little 
red clot lying bright upon the green. Look- 
ing fearfully toward the bear and seeing his 
head was turned away, he snatched up the 
small thick blood. Underneath his girdled 
blanket he hid it in his hand. 

On his return to his family, he said 
within himself : “I ’ll pray the Great Spirit 
to bless it.” Thus he built a small round 
lodge. Sprinkling water upon the heated 
heap of sacred stones within, he made ready 
to purge his body. “ The buffalo blood, 
too, must he purified before I ask a blessing 
upon it,” thought the badger. He carried 
it into the sacred vapor lodge. After plac- 
ing it near the sacred stones, he sat down 
beside it. After a long silence, he mut- 
tered : “ Great Spirit, bless this little buffalo 

blood.” Then he arose, and with a quiet 


Old Indian Legends 

dignity stepped out of the lodge. Close 
behind him some one followed. The bad- 
ger turned to look over his shoulder and to 
his great joy he beheld a Dakota brave in 
handsome buckskins. In his hand he car- 
ried a magic arrow. Across his back 
dangled a long fringed quiver. In answer 
to the badger's prayer, the avenger had 
sprung from out the red globules. 

“ My son!" exclaimed the badger with 
extended right hand. 

“How, father,” replied the brave; “I 
am your avenger ! ” 

Immediately the badger told the sad 
story of his hungry little ones and the 
stingy bear. 

Listening closely the young man stood 
looking steadily upon the ground. 

At length the father badger moved away. 

“ Where ? " queried the avenger. 

“ My son, we have no food. I am going 

again to beg for meat,” answered the badger. 


The Badger and the Bear 

“ Then I go with yon/’ replied the young 
brave. This made the old badger happy. 
He was proud of his son. He was delighted 
to be called “ father ” by the first human 

The hear saw the badger .coming in the 
distance. He narrowed his eyes at the tall 
stranger walking beside him. He spied the 
arrow. At once he guessed it was the 
avenger of whom he had heard long, long 
ago. As they approached, the bear stood 
erect with a hand on his thigh. He smiled 
upon them. 

“ How, badger, my friend ! Here is my 
knife. Cut your favorite pieces from the 
deer,” said he, holding out a long thin 

“How!” said the badger eagerly. He 
wondered what had inspired the big bear 
to such a generous deed. The young 
avenger waited till the badger took the 

long knife in his hand. 


Old Indian Legends 

Gazing full into the black bear’s face, be 
said : “I come to do justice. You have 
returned only a knife to my poor father. 
Now return to him bis dwelling.” His 
voice was deep and powerful. In bis black 
eyes burned a steady fire. 

The long strong teeth of the bear rattled 
against each other, and bis shaggy body 
shook with fear. “Ahow ! ” cried be, as if 
be bad been shot. Running into the dwell- 
ing be gasped, breathless and trembling, 
“ Come out, all of you ! This is the bad- 
ger’s dwelling. We must flee to the forest 
for fear of the avenger who carries the 
magic arrow.” 

Out they hurried, all the bears, and 
disappeared into the woods. 

Singing and laughing, the badgers 
returned to their own dwelling. 

Then the avenger left them. 

“I go,” said be in parting, “over the 





It was a clear summer day. The blue, 
blue sky dropped low over the edge of the 
green level land. A large yellow sun bung 
directly overhead. 

The singing of birds filled the summer 
space between earth and sky with sweet 
music. Again and again sang a yellow- 
breasted birdie — “ Koda Ni Dakota ! ” He 
insisted upon it. “ Koda Ni Dakota ! ” 
which was “ Friend, you’re a Dakota! 
Friend, you ’re a Dakota! ” Perchance the 
birdie meant the avenger with the magic 
arrow, for there across the plain he strode. 
He was handsome in his paint and feathers, 
proud with his great buckskin quiver on 
his back and a long bow in his hand. Afar 
to an eastern camp of cone-shaped teepees 

he was going. There over the Indian 


Old Indian Legends 

village hovered a large red eagle threaten- 
ing the safety of the people. Every morn- 
ing rose this terrible red bird out of a high 
chalk bluff and spreading out his gigantic 
wings soared slowly over the round camp 
ground. Then it was that the people, 
terror-stricken, ran screaming into their 
lodges. Covering their heads with their 
blankets, they sat trembling with fear. No 
one dared to venture out till the red eagle 
had disappeared beyond the west, w T here 
meet the blue and green. 

In vain tried the chieftain of the tribe to 
find among his warriors a powerful marks- 
man who could send a death arrow to the 
man-hungry bird. At last to urge his men 
to their utmost skill he bade his crier pro- 
claim a new reward. 

Of the chieftain’s two beautiful daughters 
he would have his choice who brought the 
dreaded red eagle with an arrow in its 


The Tree- Bound 

Upon hearing these words, the men of 
the village, both young and old, both heroes 
and cowards, trimmed new arrows for the 
contest. At gray dawn there stood indis- 
tinct under the shadow of the bluff many 
human figures ; silent as ghosts and wrapped 
in robes girdled tight about their waists, 
they waited with chosen bow and arrow. 

Some cunning old warriors stayed not 
with the group. They crouched low upon 
the open ground. But all eyes alike 
were fixed upon the top of the high bluff. 
Breathless they watched for the soaring of 
the red eagle. 

From within the dwellings many eyes 
peeped through the small holes in the front 
lapels of the teepee. With shaking knees 
and hard-set teeth, the women peered out 
upon the Dakota men prowling about with 
bows and arrows. 

At length when the morning sun also 

peeped over the eastern horizon at the 


Old Indian Legends 

armed Dakotas, the red eagle walked out 
upon the edge of the cliff. Pluming his 
gorgeous feathers, he ruffled his neck and 
flapped his strong wings together. Then 
he dived into the air. Slowly he winged 
his way over the round camp ground ; 
over the men with their strong bows and 
arrows ! In an instant the long bows were 
bent. Strong straight arrows with red 
feathered tips sped upward to the blue 
sky. Ah ! slowly moved those indifferent 
wings, untouched by the poison-beaked 
arrows. Off to the west beyond the reach 
of arrow, beyond the reach of eye, the red 
eagle flew away. 

A sudden clamor of high-pitched voices 
broke the deadly stillness of the dawn. 
The women talked excitedly about the 
invulnerable red of the eagle’s feathers, 
while the would-be heroes sulked within 
their wigwams. “ He-he-he ! ” groaned the 


The Tree-Bound 

On the evening of the same day sat a 
group of hunters around a bright burning 
fire. They were talking of a strange young 
man whom they spied while out upon a 
hunt for deer beyond the bluffs. They saw 
the stranger taking aim. Following the 
point of his arrow with their eyes, they 
beheld a herd of buffalo. The arrow sprang 
from the bow ! It darted into the skull 
of the foremost buffalo. But unlike other 
arrows it pierced through the head of the 
creature and spinning in the air lit into 
the next buffalo head. One by one the 
buffalo fell upon the sweet grass they were 
grazing. With straight quivering limbs 
they lay on their sides. The young man 
stood calmly by, counting on his fingers 
the buffalo as they dropped dead to the 
ground. When the last one fell, he ran 
thither and picking up his magic arrow 
wiped it carefully on the soft grass. He 

slipped it into his long fringed quiver. 


Old Indian Legends 

“ He is going to make a feast for some 
hungry tribe of men or beasts ! ” cried the 
hunters among themselves as they hastened 

They were afraid of the stranger with 
the sacred arrow. When the hunter’s tale 
of the stranger’s arrow reached the ears of 
the chieftain, his face brightened with a 
smile. He sent forth fleet horsemen, to 
learn of him his birth, his name, and his 

“If he is the avenger with the magic 
arrow, sprung up from the earth out of a 
clot of buffalo blood, bid him come hither. 
Let him kill the red eagle with his magic 
arrow. Let him win for himself one of 
my beautiful daughters,” he had said to 
his messengers, for the old story of the 
badger’s man-son was known all over the 
level lands. 

After four days and nights the braves 

returned. “ He is coming,” they said. “We 


The Tree-Bound 

have seen him. He is straight and tall ; 
handsome in face, with large black eyes. 
He paints his round cheeks with bright red, 
and wears the penciled lines of red over 
his temples like our men of honored rank. 
He carries on his hack a long fringed 
quiver in which he keeps his magic arrow. 
His bow is long and strong. He is coming 
now to kill the big red eagle.” All around 
the camp ground from mouth to ear passed 
those words of the returned messengers. 

Now it chanced that immortal Iktomi, 
fully recovered from the brown burnt spots, 
overheard the people talking. At once he 
was filled with a new desire. “If only 
I had the magic arrow, I would kill the 
red eagle and win the chieftain’s daughter 
for a wife,” said he in his heart. 

Back to his lonely wigwam he hastened. 

Beneath the tree in front of his teepee he 

sat upon the ground with chin between his 

drawn-up knees. His keen eyes scanned 


Old Indian Legends 

the wide plain. He was watching for the 

“ ‘ He is coming ! ’ said the people,” mut- 
tered old Iktomi. All of a sudden he 
raised an open palm to his brow and 
peered afar into the west. The summer 
sun hung bright in the middle of a cloud- 
less sky. There across the green prairie 
was a man walking bareheaded toward 
the east. 

“ Ha ! ha ! ’ t is he ! the man with the 
magic arrow!” laughed Iktomi. And when 
the bird with the yellow breast sang loud 
again — “ Koda Ni Dakota ! Friend, 
you ’re a Dakota ! ” Iktomi put his hand 
over his mouth as he threw his head far 
backward, laughing at both the bird and 

“ He is your friend, but his arrow will 
kill one of your kind ! He is a Dakota, 
but soon he ’ll grow into the bark on this 
tree ! Ha ! ha ! ha ! ” he laughed again. 


The Tree-Bound 

The young avenger walked with swaying 
strides nearer and nearer toward the lonely 
wigwam and tree. Iktomi heard the swish ! 
swish! of the stranger’s feet through the 
tall grass. He was passing now beyond the 
tree, when Iktomi, springing to his feet, 
called out : ee How, how, my friend ! I see 
you are dressed in handsome deerskins and 
have red paint on your cheeks. You are 
going to some feast or dance, may I ask? ” 
Seeing the young man only smiled Iktomi 
went on : u I havp not had a mouthful of 
food this day. Have pity on me, young 
brave, and shoot yonder bird for me ! ” 
With these words Iktomi pointed toward the 
tree-top, where sat a bird on the highest 
branch. The young avenger, always ready 
to help those in distress, sent an arrow 
upward and the bird fell. In the next branch 
it was caught between the forked prongs. 

“ My friend, climb the tree and get the 
bird. I cannot climb so high. I would 


Old Indian Legends 

get dizzy and fall,” pleaded Iktomi. The 
avenger began to scale the tree, when 
Iktomi cried to him : “ My friend, your 
beaded buckskins may be torn by the 
branches. Leave them safe upon the grass 
till you are down again.” 

xJ O 

“ You are right,” replied the young man, 
quickly slipping off his long fringed quiver. 
Together with his dangling pouches and 
tinkling ornaments, he placed it on the 
ground. Now he climbed the tree unhin- 
dered. Soon from the top he took the 
bird. “ My friend, toss to me your arrow 
that I may have the honor of wiping it 
clean on soft deerskin ! ’ ’ exclaimed Iktomi. 

“How!” said the brave, and threw the 
bird and arrow to the ground. 

At once Iktomi seized the arrow. Rub- 
bing it first on the grass and then on a 
piece of deerskin, he muttered indistinct 
words all the while. The young man, step- 
ping downward from limb to limb, hearing 


The Tree-Bound 

the low muttering, said : “ Iktomi, I cannot 
hear what you say ! ” 

“Oh, my friend, I was only talking of 
your big heart.” 

Again stooping over the arrow Iktomi 
continued his repetition of charm words. 
“ Grow fast, grow fast to the bark of the 
tree,” he whispered. Still the young man 
moved slowly downward. Suddenly drop- 
ping the arrow and standing erect, Iktomi 
said aloud : “ Grow fast to the bark of the 
tree!” Before the brave could leap from 
the tree he became tight-grown to the 

“Ah! ha!” laughed the bad Iktomi. 
“ I have the magic arrow ! I have the 
beaded buckskins of the great avenger ! ” 
Hooting and dancing beneath the tree, he 
said : “ I shall kill the red eagle ; I shall 
wed the chieftain’s beautiful daughter ! ” 

“ Oh, Iktomi, set me free ! ” begged the 
tree-bound Dakota brave. But Iktomi’s 


Old Indian Legends 

ears were like tlie fungus on a tree. He 
did not hear with them. 

Wearing the handsome buckskins and 
carrying proudly the magic arrow in his 
right hand, he started oh eastward. Imi- 
tating the swaying strides of the avenger, 
he walked away with a face turned slightly 

“ Oh, set me free ! I am glued to the 
tree like its own bark ! Cut me loose ! ” 
moaned the prisoner. 

A young woman, carrying on her strong 
back a bundle of tightly hound willow 
sticks, passed near by the lonely teepee. 
She heard the wailing man’s voice. She 
paused to listen to the sad words. Looking 
around she saw nowhere a human creature. 
“It may be a spirit,” thought she. 

“ Oh ! cut me loose ! set me free ! Ik- 
tomi has played me false ! He has made 
me bark of his tree ! ” cried the voice 



The Tree-Bound 

The young woman dropped her pack of 
firewood to the ground. With her stone 
axe she hurried to the tree. There before 
her astonished eyes clung a young brave 
close to the tree. 

Too shy for words, yet too kind-hearted 
to leave the stranger tree-bound, she cut 
loose the whole bark. Like an open jacket 
she drew it to the ground. With it came 
the young man also. Free once more, he 
started away. Looking backward, a few 
paces from the young woman, he waved 
his hand, upward and downward, before 
her face. This was a sign of gratitude 
used when words failed to interpret strong 

When the bewildered woman reached 
her dwelling, she mounted a pony and 
rode swiftly across the rolling land. To 
the camp ground in the east, to the chief- 
tain troubled by the red eagle, she carried 
her story. 





A man in buckskins sat upon the top of 
a little hillock. The setting sun shone 
bright upon a strong bow in his hand. 
His face was turned toward the round 
camp ground at the foot of the hill. He 
had walked a long journey hither. He 
was waiting for the chieftain’s men to 
spy him. 

Soon four strong men ran forth from the 
center wigwam toward the hillock, where 
sat the man with the long bow. 

“ He is the avenger come to shoot the 
red eagle,” cried the runners to each 
other as they bent forward swinging their 
elbows together. 

They reached the side of the stranger, 

but he did not heed them. Proud and 


Old Indian Legends 

silent lie gazed upon the cone-sliaped wig- 
wams beneath him. Spreading a hand- 
somely decorated buffalo robe before the 
man, two of the warriors lifted him by 
each shoulder and placed him gently on it. 
Then the four men took, each, a corner 
of the blanket and carried the stranger, 
with long proud steps, toward the chieftain’s 

Ready to greet the stranger, the tall chief- 
tain stood at the entrance way. “ How, you 
are the avenger with the magic arrow ! ” 
said he, extending to him a smooth soft 

“ How, great chieftain ! ” replied the man, 
holding long the chieftain’s hand. Enter- 
ing the teepee, the chieftain motioned the 
young man to the right side of the door- 
way, while he sat down opposite him with 
a center fire burning between them. Word- 
less, like a bashful Indian maid, the avenger 

ate in silence the food set before him on 


Shooting of the Red Ragle 

the ground in front of his crossed shins. 
When he had finished his meal he handed 
the empty bowl to the chieftain’s wife, 
saying, “ Mother-in-law, here is your dish!” 

“Han, my son!” answered the woman, 
taking the bowl. 

With the magic arrow in his quiver the 
stranger felt not in the least too presuming 
in addressing the woman as his mother- 

Complaining of fatigue, he covered his 
face with his blanket and soon within the 
chieftain’s teepee he lay fast asleep. 

“ The young man is not handsome after 
all ! ” whispered the woman in her hus- 
band’s ear. 

“Ah, but after he has killed the red 


eagle he will seem handsome enough!” 

answered the chieftain. 

That night the star men in their burial 

procession in the sky reached the low 

northern horizon, before the center fires 


Old Indian Legends 

within the teepees had flickered out. The 
ringing laughter which had floated up 
through the smoke lapels was now hushed, 
and only the distant howling of wolves 
broke the quiet of the village. But the 
lull between midnight and dawn was short 
indeed. Very early the oval-shaped door- 
flaps were thrust aside and many brown 
faces peered out of the wigwams toward 
the top of the highest bluff. 

Now the sun rose up out of the east. 
The red painted avenger stood ready within 
the camp ground for the flying of the red 
eagle. He appeared, that terrible bird ! 
He hovered over the round village as if 
he could pounce down upon it and devour 
the whole tribe. 

When the first arrow shot up into the 

sky the anxious watchers thrust a hand 

quickly over their half-uttered “ liinnu ! ” 

The second and the third arrows flew 

upward but missed by a wide space the 


Shooting of the Red Eagle 

red eagle soaring with lazy indifference 
over the little man with the long bow. 
All his arrows he spent in vain. “ Ah ! 
my blanket brushed my elbow and shifted 
the course of my arrow ! ” said the stranger 
as the people gathered around him. 

During this happening, a woman on 
horseback halted her pony at the chief- 
tain’s teepee. It was no other than the 
young woman who cut loose the tree- 
bound captive ! 

While she told the story the chieftain 
listened with downcast face. “ I passed 
him on my way. He is near ! ” she ended. 

Indignant at the bold impostor, the wrath- 
ful eyes of the chieftain snapped fire like 
red cinders in the night time. His lips 
were closed. At length to the woman he 
said : “ How, you have done me a good 
deed.” Then with quick decision he gave 
command to a fleet horseman to meet the 
avenger. “ Clothe him in these my best 


Old Indian Legends 

buckskins,” said he, pointing to a bundle 
within the wigwam. 

In the meanwhile strong men seized 
Iktomi and dragged him by his long hair 
to the hilltop. There upon a mock-pillared 
grave they bound him hand and feet. 
Grown-ups and children sneered and hooted 
at Iktomi’ s disgrace. For a half-day he 
lay there, the laughing-stock of the people. 
Upon the arrival of the real avenger, Iktomi 
was released and chased away beyond the 
outer limits of the camp ground. 

On the following morning at daybreak, 
peeped the people out of half-open door- 

There again in the midst of the large 
camp ground was a man in beaded buck- 
skins. In his hand was a strong bow and 
red-tipped arrow. Again the big red eagle 
appeared on the edge of the bluff. He 
plumed his feathers and flapped his huge 


Shooting of the Red Eagle 

The young man crouched low to the 
ground. He placed the arrow on the bow, 
drawing a poisoned flint for the eagle. 

The bird rose into the air. He moved 
his outspread wings one, two, three times 
and lo ! the eagle tumbled from the great 
height and fell heavily to the earth. An 
arrow stuck in his breast ! He was dead ! 

So quick was the hand of the avenger, 
so sure his sight, that no one had seen the 
arrow fly from his long bent bow. 

In awe and amazement the village was 
dumb. And when the avenger, plucking 
a red eagle feather, placed it in his black 
hair, a loud shout of the people went up 
to the sky. Then hither and thither ran 
singing men and women making a great 
feast for the avenger. 

Thus he won the beautiful Indian princess 
who never tired of telling to her children 
the story of the big red eagle. 





The huntsman Patkasa (turtle) stood 
bent over a newly slain deer. 

The red-tipped arrow he drew from the 
wounded deer was unlike the arrows in his 
own quiver. Another’s stray shot had 
killed the deer. Patkasa had hunted all 
the morning without so much as spying 
an ordinary blackbird. 

At last returning homeward, tired and 
heavy-hearted that he had no meat for the 
hungry mouths in his wigwam, he walked 
slowly with downcast eyes. Kind ghosts 
pitied the unhappy hunter and led him 
to the newly slain deer, that his children 
should not cry for food. 

When- Patkasa stumbled upon the deer 

in his path, he exclaimed : “ Good spirits 

have pushed me hither ! ” 


Old Indian Legends 

Thus he leaned long over the gift of the 
friendly ghosts. 

“ How, my friend ! ” said a voice behind 
his ear, and a hand fell on his shoulder. 
It was not a spirit this time. It was old 

“ How, Iktomi ! ” answered Patkasa, still 
stooping over the deer. 

“ My friend, you are a skilled hunter,” 
began Iktomi, smiling a thin smile which 
spread from one ear to the other. 

Suddenly raising up his head Patkasa’ s 
black eyes twinkled as he asked : “ Oh, you 
really say so ? ” 

“Yes, my friend, you are a skillful 
fellow. Now let us have a little contest. 
Let us see who can jump over the deer 
without touching a hair on his hide,” sug- 
gested Iktomi. 

“ Oh, I fear I cannot do it ! ” cried 
Patkasa, rubbing his funny, thick pahns 


C i 

My friend, you are a skilled hunter” 


■■ . . $ m ■ | 3B 




Iktomi and the Turtle 

u Have no coward’s doubt, Patkasa. I 
say you are a skillful fellow who finds 
nothing hard to do.” With these words 
Iktomi led Patkasa a short distance away. 
In little puffs Patkasa laughed uneasily. 

“ Now, you may jump first,” said Iktomi. 

Patkasa, with doubled fists, swung his 
fat arms to and fro, all the while biting 
hard his under lip. 

Just before the run and leap Iktomi 
put in : “ Let the winner have the deer 
to eat ! ” 

It was too late now to say no. Patkasa 
was more afraid of being called a coward 
than of losing the deer. a Ho-wo,” he 
replied, still working his short arms. At 
length he started off on the run. So quick 
and small were his steps that he seemed 
to be kicking the ground only. Then 
the leap ! But Patkasa tripped upon a 
stick and fell hard against the side of 
the deer. 


Old Indian Legends 

“ He-he-he ! ” exclaimed Iktomi, pretend- 
ing disappointment that liis friend had 

Lifting him to his feet, he said : “ Now it 
is my turn to try the high jump ! ” Hardly 
was the last word spoken than Iktomi gave 
a leap high above the deer. 

“ The game is mine ! " laughed he, pat- 
ting the sullen Patkasa on the back. “My 
friend, watch the deer while I go to bring 

' o o 

my children," said Iktomi, darting lightly 
through the tall grass. 

Patkasa was always ready to believe the 
words of scheming people and to do the 
little favors any one asked of him. How- 
ever, on this occasion, he did not answer 
“Yes, my friend." He realized that Iktomi’ s 
flattering tongue had made him foolish. 

He turned up his nose at Iktomi, now 
almost out of sight, as much as to 
say : “ Oh, no, Ikto ; I do not hear your 
words ! " 


Iktomi and the Turtle 

Soon there came a murmur of voices. 
The sound of laughter grew louder and 
louder. All of a sudden it became hushed. 
Old Iktomi led his young Iktomi brood to 
the place where he had left the turtle, but 
it was vacant. Nowhere was there any 
sign of Patkasa or the deer. Then the 
babes did howl! 

“Be still!” said father Iktomi to his 
children. “I know where Patkasa lives. 
Follow me. I shall take you to the turtle’s 
dwelling.” He ran along a narrow footpath 
toward the creek near by. Close upon his 
heels came his children with tear-streaked 

“ There ! ” said Iktomi in a loud whisper 
as he gathered his little ones on the bank. 
“ There is Patkasa broiling venison ! There 
is his teepee, and the savory fire is in his 
front yard ! ” 

The young Iktomis stretched their necks 

and rolled their round black eyes like 


Old Indian Legends 

newly hatched birds. They peered into 
the water. 

“Now, I will cool Patkasa’s fire. I shall 
bring yon the broiled venison. Watch 
closely. When yon see the black coals rise 
to the surface of the water, clap yonr 
hands and shout aloud, for soon after that 
sign I shall return to you with some tender 

Thus saying Iktomi plunged into the 
creek. Splash ! splash ! the water leaped 
upward into spray. Scarcely had it become 
leveled and smooth than there bubbled up 
many black spots. The creek was seething 
with the dancing of round black things. 

“ The cooled fire ! The coals ! ” laughed 
the brood of Iktomis. Clapping together 
their little hands, they chased one another 
along the edge of the creek. They shouted 
and hooted with great glee. 

“Abas!” said a gruff voice across the 

water. It w T as Patkasa. In a large willow 


Iktomi and the Turtle 

tree leaning far over the water he sat upon 
a large limb. On the very same branch 
was a bright burning fire over which 
Patkasa broiled the venison. By this time 


the water was calm again. Xo more danced 
those black spots on its surface, for they 
were the toes of old Iktomi. He was 

The Iktomi children hurried away from 
the creek, crying and calling for their 

y j o o 

water-dead father. 





It was night upon the prairie. Over- 
head the stars were twinkling bright their 
red and yellow lights. The moon was 
young. A silvery thread among the stars, 
it soon drifted low beneath the horizon. 

Upon the ground the land was pitchy 
black. There are night people on the plain 
who love the dark. Amid the black level 
land they meet to frolic under the stars. 
Then when their sharp ears hear any 
strange footfalls nigh they scamper away 
into the deep shadows of night. There 
they are safely hid from all dangers, they 

Thus it was that one very black night, 

afar oh from the edge of the level land, out 

of the wooded river bottom glided forth two 



Old Indian Legends 

balls of fire. They came farther and far- 
ther into the level land. They grew larger 
and brighter. The dark hid the body of 
the creature with those fiery eyes. They 
came on and on, just over the tops of the 
prairie grass. It might have been a wild- 
cat prowling low on soft, stealthy feet. 
Slowly but surely the terrible eyes drew 
nearer and nearer to the heart of the level 

There in a huge old buffalo skull was a 
gay feast and dance ! Tiny little field mice 
were singing and dancing in a circle to the 
boom-boom of a wee, wee drum. They 
were laughing and talking among them- 
selves while their chosen singers sang loud 
a merry tune. 

They built a small open fire within 
the center of their queer dance house. 
The light streamed out of the buffalo 
skull through all the curious sockets and 


Tiny field mice were singing and dancing in a circle 



Dance in a Buffalo Skull 

A light on the plain in the middle of the 
night was an unusual thing. But so merry 
were the mice they did not hear the “ kins, 
kins ” of sleepy birds, disturbed by the 
unaccustomed fire. 

A pack of wolves, fearing to come nigh 
this night fire, stood together a little dis- 
tance away, and, turning their pointed noses 
to the stars, howled and yelped most dis- 
mally. Even the cry of the wolves was 
unheeded by the mice within the lighted 
buffalo skull. 

They were feasting and dancing ; they 
were singing and laughing — those funny 
little furry fellows. 

All the while across the dark from out 
the low river bottom came that pair of 
fiery eyes. 

Now closer and more swift, now fiercer 

and glaring, the eyes moved toward the 

buffalo skull. All unconscious of those 

fearful eyes, the happy mice nibbled at 


Old Indian Legends 

dried roots and venison. The singers had 
started another song. The drummers beat 
the time, turning their heads from side to 
side in rhythm. In a ring around the tire 
hopped the mice, each bouncing hard on his 
two hind feet. Some carried their tails 
over their arms, while others trailed them 
proudly along. 

Ah, very near are those round yellow 
eyes ! Very low to the ground they seem 
to creep — creep toward the buffalo skull. 
All of a sudden they slide into the eye- 
sockets of the old skull. 

“ Spirit of the buffalo ! ” squeaked a 
frightened mouse as he jumped out from 
a hole in the back part of the skull. 

“A cat! a cat!” cried other mice as 
they scrambled out of holes both large and 
snug. Noiseless they ran away into the 





The water-fowls were flying over the 
marshy lakes. It was now the hunting 
season. Indian men, with bows and arrows, 
were wading waist deep amid the wild rice. 
Near by, within their wigwams, the wives 
were roasting wild duck and making down 

In the largest teepee sat a young mother 
wrapping red porcupine quills about the 
long fringes of a buckskin cushion. Beside 
her lay a black-eyed baby hoy cooing and 
laughing. Reaching and kicking upward 
with his tiny hands and feet, he played 
with the dangling strings of his heavy- 
beaded bonnet hanging empty on a tent 
pole above him. 


Old Indian Legends 

At length the mother laid aside her red 
quills and white sinew-threads. The babe 
fell fast asleep. Leaning on one hand and 
softly whispering a little lullaby, she threw 
a light cover over her baby. It was ahnost 
tune for the return of her husband. 

Remembering there were no willow 
sticks for the fire, she quickly girdled her 
blanket tight about her waist, and with 
a short-handled ax slipped through her 
belt, she hurried away toward the wooded 
ravine. She was strong and swung an 
ax as skillfully as any man. Her loose 
buckskin dress was made for such freedom. 
Soon carrying easily a bundle of long 
willows on her back, with a loop of rope 
over both her shoulders, she came striding 

Near the entrance way she stooped low, 

at once shifting the bundle to the right 

and with both hands lifting the noose from 

over her head. Having thus dropped the 


The Toad and the Boy 

wood to the ground, she disappeared into 
her teepee. In a moment she came run- 
ning out again, crying, “ My son ! My lit- 
tle son is gone ! ’ ’ Her keen eyes swept 
east and west and all around her. There 
was nowhere any sign of the child. 

Running with clinched fists to the near- 
est teepees, she called : “ Has any one seen 
my baby ? He is gone ! My little son is 
gone ! ” 

“ Hinnu ! Hinnu ! ’ ’ exclaimed the women, 
rising to their feet and rushing out of their 

“ W e have not seen your child ! What 
has happened?” queried the women. 

With great tears in her eyes the mother 
told her story. 

“We will search with you,” they said 
to her as she started off. 

They met the returning husbands, who 

turned about and joined in the hunt for 

the missing child. Along the shore of the 


Old Indian Legends 

lakes, among the high-grown reeds, they 
looked in vain. He was nowhere to he 
found. After many days and nights the 
search was given up. It was sad, indeed, 
to hear the mother wailing aloud for her 
little son. 

It was growing late in the autumn. The 
birds were flying high toward the south. 
The teepees around the lakes were gone, 
save one lonely dwelling. 

Till the winter snow covered the ground 
and ice covered the lakes, the wailing 
woman’s voice was heard from that solitary 
wigwam. From some far distance was also 
the sound of the father’s voice singing a 
sad song. 

Thus ten summers and as many winters 
have come and gone since the strange dis- 
appearance of the little child. Every 
autumn with the hunters came the un- 
happy parents of the lost baby to search 
again for him. 


The Toad and the Boy 

Toward the latter part of the tenth sea- 
son when, one by one, the teepees were 
folded and the families went away from 
the lake region, the mother walked again 
along the lake shore weeping. One even- 
ing, across the lake from where the crying 
woman stood, a pair of bright black eyes 
peered at her through the tall reeds and 
wild rice. A little wild boy stopped his 
play among the tall grasses. His long, 
loose hair hanging down his brown back 
and shoulders was carelessly tossed from his 
round face. He wore a loin cloth of woven 
sweet grass. Crouching low to the marshy 
ground, he listened to the wailing voice. 
As the voice grew hoarse and only sobs 
shook the slender figure of the woman, the 
eyes of the wild boy grew dim and wet. 

At length, when the moaning ceased, he 
sprang to his feet and ran like a nymph 
with swift 'outstretched toes. He rushed 

into a small hut of reeds and grasses. 


Old Indian Legends 

“ Mother! Mother! Tell me what voice 
it was I heard which pleased my ears, 
but made my eyes grow wet!” said he, 

“Han, my son,” grunted a big, ugly toad. 
“It was the voice of a weeping woman 
you heard. My son, do not say you like it. 
Do not tell me it brought tears to your 
eyes. You have never heard me weep. I 
can please your ear and break your heart. 
Listen!” replied the great old toad. 

Stepping outside, she stood by the en- 
trance way. She was old and badly puffed 
out. She had reared a large family of lit- 
tle toads, but none of them had aroused her 
love, nor ever grieved her. She had heard 
the wailing human voice and marveled at 
the throat which produced the strange 
sound. Now, in her great desire to keep 
the stolen boy awhile longer, she ventured 
to cry as the Dakota woman does. In a 
gruff, coarse voice she broke forth: 


A little boy stopped his play among the grasses 

The Toad and the Boy 

“Hin-hin, doe-skin! Hin-hin, Ermine, 
Ermine ! Hin-hin, red blanket, with white 
border ! ” 

Not knowing that the syllables of a 
Dakota’s cry are the names of loved ones 
gone, the ugly toad mother sought to please 
the boy’s ear with the names of valuable 
articles. Having shrieked in a torturing 
voice and mouthed extravagant names, the 
old toad rolled her tearless eyes with great 
satisfaction. Hopping back into her dwell- 
ing, she asked : 

“My son, did my voice bring tears to 
your eyes ? Did my words bring gladness 
to your ears ? Do you not like my wailing 
better ?” 

“No, no!” pouted the boy with some 
impatience. “ I want to hear the woman’s 
voice ! Tell me, mother, why the human 
voice stirs all my feelings!” 

The toad mother said within her breast, 

“ The human child has heard and seen his 


Old Indian Legends 

real mother. I cannot keep him longer, I 
fear. Oh, no, I cannot give away the 
pretty creature I have taught to call me 
6 mother’ all these many winters.” 

“ Mother,” went on the child voice, “tell 
me one thing. Tell me why my little 
brothers and sisters are all unlike me.” 

The big, ugly toad, looking at her pudgy 
children, said: “The eldest is always best.” 

This reply quieted the hoy for a while. 
Very closely watched the old toad mother 
her stolen human son. When by chance he 
started off alone, she shoved out one of her 
own children after him, saying: “Do not 
come back without your big brother.” 

Thus the wild boy with the long, loose 
hair sits every day on a marshy island hid 
among the tall reeds. But he is not alone. 
Always at his feet hops a little toad brother. 
One day an Indian hunter, wading in the 
deep waters, spied the boy. He had heard 

of the baby stolen long ago. 


The Toad and the Boy 

“This is he!” murmured the hunter to 
himself as he ran to his wigwam. “ I saw 
among the tall reeds a black-haired hoy at 
play! ” shouted he to the people. 

At once the unhappy father and mother 
cried out, “’Tis he, our boy!” Quickly 
he led them to the lake. Peeping through 
the wild rice, he pointed with unsteady 
finger toward the boy playing all unawares. 

“ ’T is he ! ’t is he ! ” cried the mother, 
for she knew him. 

In silence the hunter stood aside, while 
the happy father and mother caressed their 
baby boy grown tall. 





From the tall grass came the voice of 
a crying babe. The huntsmen who were 
passing nigh heard and halted. 

The tallest one among them hastened 
toward the high grass with long, cautious 
strides. He waded through the growth of 
green with just a head above it all. Sud- 
denly exclaiming “Hunhe!” he dropped 
out of sight. In another instant he held 
up in both his hands a tiny little baby, 
wrapped in soft brown buckskins. 

“ Oh ho, a wood-child ! ” cried the men, 
for they were hunting along the wooded 
river bottom where this babe was found. 

While the hunters were questioning 
whether or no they should carry it home, 
the wee Indian baby kept up his little howl. 

“ His voice is strong ! ” said one. 

Old Indian Legend 6 

u At times it sounds like an old man’s 
voice ! ” whispered a superstitious fellow, 
who feared some bad spirit hid in the small 
child to cheat them by and by. 

“ Let us take it to our wise chieftain,” 
at length they said ; and the moment they 
started toward the camp ground the strange 
wood-child ceased to cry. 

Beside the chieftain’s teepee waited the 
hunters while the tall man entered with 
the child. 

“How! how!” nodded the kind-faced 
chieftain, listening to the queer story. 
Then rising, he took the infant in his 
strong arms ; gently he laid the black-eyed 
babe in his daughter’s lap. u This is to be 
your little son ! ” said he, smiling. 

“ Yes, father, ” she replied. Pleased with 
the child, she smoothed the long black hair 
fringing his round brown face. 

“ Tell the people that I give a feast 

and dance this day for the naming of 



Iya , the Camp -Eater 

my daughter s little son/’ bade the chief- 

In the meanwhile among the men wait- 
ing by the entrance way, one said in a low 
voice : “I have heard that bad spirits come 
as little children into a camp which they 
mean to destroy.” 

“ No ! no ! Let ns not he overcautious. 
It would be cowardly to leave a baby in 
the wild wood where prowl the hungry 
wolves ! ” answered an elderly man. 

The tall man now came out of the chief- 
tain’s teepee. With a word he sent them 
to their dwellings half running with joy. 

“ A feast ! a dance for the naming of the 
chieftain’s grandchild!” cried he in a loud 
voice to the village people. 

“What? what?” asked they in great 
surprise, — holding a hand to the ear to 
catch the words of the crier. 

There was a momentary silence among 

the people while they listened to the ringing 


Old Indian Legends 

voice of the man walking in the center 
ground. Then broke forth a rippling, laugh- 
ing babble among the cone-shaped teepees. 
All were glad to hear of the chieftain’s grand- 
son. They were happy to attend the feast 
and dance for its naming. With excited 
fingers they twisted their hair into glossy 
braids and painted their cheeks with bright 
red paint. To and fro hurried the women, 
handsome in their gala-day dress. Men in 
loose deerskins, with long tinkling metal 
fringes, strode in small numbers toward the 
center of the round camp ground. 

Here underneath a temporary shade- 
house of green leaves they were to dance 
and feast. The children in deerskins and 
paints, just like their elders, were jolly 
little men and women. Beside their eager 
parents they skipped along toward the 
green dance house. 

Here seated in a large circle, the people 

were assembled, the proud chieftain rose 


The proud chieftain rose with the little baby in his arms 


Iya , the Camp-Eater 

with the little baby in his arms. The 
noisy hum of voices was hushed. Not a 
tinkling of a metal fringe broke the silence. 
The crier came forward to greet the chief- 
tain, then bent attentively over the small 
babe, listening to the words of the chieftain. 
When he paused the crier spoke aloud to 
the people : 

“ This woodland child is adopted by the 
chieftain’s eldest daughter. His name is 
Chaske. He wears the title of the eldest 
son. In honor of Chaske the chieftain 
gives this feast and dance ! These are the 
words of him you see holding a baby in his 

“ Yes ! Yes ! Hinnu ! How ! ” came from 
the circle. At once the drummers beat 
softly and slowly their drum while the 
chosen singers hummed together to find 
the common pitch. The beat of the drum 
grew louder and faster. The singers burst 
forth in a lively tune. Then the drum- 

Old Indian Legends 

beats subsided and faintly marked the 
rhyt hm of the singing. Here and there 
bounced up men and women, both young 
and old. They danced and sang with 
merry light hearts. Then came the hour 
of feasting. 

Late into the night the air of the camp 
ground was alive with the laughing voices 
of women and the singing in unison of 
young men. Within her father’s teepee sat 
the chief tain’s daughter. Proud of her 
little one, she watched over him asleep in 
her lap. 

Gradually a deep quiet stole over the 

camp ground, as one by one the people fell 

into pleasant dreams. Now all the village 

was still. Alone sat the beautiful young 

mother watching the babe in her lap, 

asleep with a gaping little mouth. Amid 

the quiet of the night, her ear heard the 

far-off hum of many voices. The faint 

sound of murmuring people was in the 


Iya , the Camp-Eater 

air. Upward she glanced at the smoke 
hole of the wigwam and saw a bright star 
peeping down upon her. “ Spirits in the 
air above?” she wondered. Yet there was 
no sign to tell her of their nearness. The 
fine small sound of voices grew larger and 

“ Father ! rise ! I hear the coming of 
some tribe. Hostile or friendly — I can- 
not tell. Rise and see ! ” whispered the 
young woman. 

“ Yes, my daughter! ” answered the chief- 
tain, springing to his feet. 

Though asleep, his ear was ever alert. 
Thus rushing out into the open, he listened 
for strange sounds. With an eagle eye he 
scanned the camp ground for some sign. 

Returning he said : “ My daughter, I hear 
nothing and see no sign of evil nigh.” 

66 Oh ! the sound of many voices comes 
up from the earth about me ! ” exclaimed 
the young mother. 


Old Indian Legends 

Bending low over her babe she gave ear 
to the ground. Horrified was she to find 
the mysterious sound came out of the open 
mouth of her sleeping child ! 

“ Why so unlike other babes ! ” she cried 
within her heart as she slipped him gently 
from her lap to the ground. “ Mother, 
listen and tell me if this child is an evil 
spirit come to destroy our camp ! ” she 
whispered loud. 

Placing an ear close to the open baby 
mouth, the chieftain and his wife, each in 
turn heard the voices of a great camp. 
The singing of men and women, the beat- 
ing of the drum, the rattling of deer-hoofs 
strung like bells on . a string, these were 
the sounds they heard. 

“We must go away,” said the chieftain, 

leading them into the night. Out in the 

open he whispered to the frightened young 

woman : “ Iya, the camp-eater, has come in 

the guise of a babe. Had you gone to 


Iya , the Camp-Eater 

sleep, he would have jumped out into 
his own shape and would have devoured 
our camp. He is a giant with spind- 
ling legs. He cannot fight, for he cannot 
run. He is powerful only in the night 
with his tricks. We are safe as soon as 
day breaks.” Then moving closer to the 
woman, he whispered : “ If he wakes now, 
he will swallow the whole tribe with one 
hideous gulp ! Come, we must flee with 
our people.” 

Thus creeping from teepee to teepee a 
secret alarm signal was given. At mid- 
night the teepees were gone and there was 
left no sign of the village save heaps of 
dead ashes. So quietly had the people 
folded their wigwams and bundled their 
tent poles that they slipped away unheard 
by the sleeping Iya babe. 

When the morning sun arose, the babe 
awoke. Seeing himself deserted, he threw 

off his baby form in a hot rage. 


Old Indian Legends 

Wearing his own ugly shape, his huge 
body toppled to and fro, from side to side, 
on a pair of thin legs far too small for their 
burden. Though with every move he came 
dangerously nigh to falling, he followed in 
the trail of the fleeing people. 

- 1 shall eat you in the sight of a noon- 
day sun !-” cried Iya in his vain rage, when 
he spied them encamped beyond a river. 

By some unknown cunning he swam 
the river and sought his way toward the 

“ Hin ! bin ! ” he grunted and growled. 
With perspiration beading his brow he 
strove to wiggle his slender legs beneath 
his giant form. 

- Ha ! ha ! ” laughed all the village people 
to see Iya made foolish with anger. “ Such 
spindle legs cannot stand to fight by day- 
light ! ” shouted the brave ones who were 
terror-struck the night before by the name 


Iya , the Crimp-Eater 

Warriors with long knives rushed forth 
and slew the camp-eater. 

Lo ! there rose out of the giant a whole 
Indian tribe : their camp ground, their tee- 
pees in a large circle, and the people laugh- 
ing and dancing. 

“ We are glad to be free ! ” said these 
strange people. 

Thus Iya was killed ; and no more are the 
camp grounds in danger of being swallowed 
up in a single night time. 







Manstin was an adventurous brave, but 
very kind-hearted. Stamping a moccasined 
foot as he drew on his buckskin leggins, he 
said : “ Grandmother, beware of Iktomi ! 
Do not let him lure you into some cunning 
trap. I am going to the North country on 
a long hunt.” 

With these words of caution to the 
bent old rabbit grandmother with whom 
he had lived since he was a tiny babe, 
Manstin started oh toward the north. 
He was scarce over the great high hills 
when he heard the shrieking of a human 

“ Wan ! ” he ejaculated, pointing his long 

ears toward the direction of the sound ; 

“ Wan ! that is the work of cruel Double- 


Old Indian Legends 

Face. Shameless coward! he delights in 
torturing helpless creatures ! ” 

Muttering indistinct words, Manstin ran 
up the last hill and lo ! in the ravine beyond 
stood the terrible monster with a face in 
front and one in the hack of his head ! 

This brown giant was without clothes 

save for a wild-cat-skin about his loins. 

With a wicked gleaming eye, he watched 

the little black-haired baby he held in 

his strong arm. In a laughing voice he 

hummed an Indian mother’s lullaby, 

• • • • 

“ A-boo ! Aboo ! ” and at the same time 
he switched the naked baby with a thorny 
wild-rose bush. 

Quickly Manstin jumped behind a large 
sage bush on the brow of the hill. He 
bent his bow and the sinewy string twanged. 
Now an arrow stuck above the ear of 
Double-Face. It was a poisoned arrow, 
and the giant fell dead. Then Manstin 
took the little brown baby and hurried 


“ I am going to the North Country on a long hunt ” 

Mans tin, the Rabbit 

away from the ravine. Soon he came to 
a teepee from whence loud wailing voices 
broke. It was the teepee of the stolen 
baby and the mourners were its heart- 
broken parents. 

When gallant Mans tin returned the child 
to the eager arms of the mother there came 
a sudden terror into the eyes of both the 
Dakotas. They feared lest it was Double- 
Face come in a new guise to torture them. 
The rabbit understood their fear and 
said: “I am Manstin, the kind-hearted, — 
Manstin, the noted huntsman. I am your 
friend. Do not fear.” 

That night a strange thing happened. 
While the father and mother slept, Manstin 
took the wee baby. With his feet placed 
gently yet firmly upon the tiny toes of the 
little child, he drew upward by each small 
hand the sleeping child till he was a full- 
grown man. With a forefinger he traced 
a slit in the upper lip ; and when on the 


Old Indian Legends 

morrow the man and woman awoke they 
could not distinguish their own son from 
Manstin, so much alike were the braves. 

“ Henceforth we are friends, to help each 
other,” said Manstin, shaking a right hand 
in farewell. “The earth is our common 
ear, to carry from its uttermost extremes 
one’s slightest wish for the other ! ” 

“Ho! Be it so!” answered the newly 
made man. 

Upon leaving his friend, Manstin hurried 
away toward the North country whither he 
was bound for a long hunt. Suddenly he 
came upon the edge of a wide brook. His 
alert eye caught sight of a rawhide rope 
staked to the water’s brink, which led 
away toward a small round hut in the dis- 
tance. The ground was trodden into a 
deep groove beneath the loosely drawn 
rawhide rope. 

“Hun-he!” exclaimed Manstin, bending 

over the freshly made footprints in the 


Manstin, the Rabbit 

moist bank of the brook. “A man’s foot- 
prints ! ” he said to himself. “ A blind man 
lives in yonder lint ! This rope is his guide 
by which he comes for his daily water!” 
surmised Manstin, who knew all the pecul- 
iar contrivances of the people. At once 
his eyes became fixed upon the solitary 
dwelling and hither he followed his curi- 
osity, — a real blind man’s rope. 

Quietly he lifted the door-flap and entered 
in. An old toothless grandfather, blind and 
shaky with age, sat upon the ground. He 
was not deaf however. He heard the 
entrance and felt the presence of some 

“ How, grandchild,” he mumbled, for he 
was old enough to be grandparent to every 
living thing, “ how ! I cannot see you. 
Pray, speak your name ! ” 

“ Grandfather, I am Manstin,” answered 
the rabbit, all the while looking with 
curious eyes about the wigwam. 


Old Indian Legends 

“ Grandfather, what is it so tightly packed 
in all these buckskin bags placed against 
the tent poles?” he asked. 

a Mv grandchild, those are dried buffalo 
meat and venison. These are magic bags 
which never grow empty. I am blind and can- 
not go on a hunt. Hence a kind Maker has 
given me these magic bags of choicest foods/’ 
Then the old, bent man pulled at a rope 
which lay by his right hand. “ This leads 
me to the brook where I drink ! and this,” 
said he, turning to the one on his left, 
“ and this takes me into the forest, where 
I feel about for dry sticks for my fire.” 

“ Grandfather, I wish I lived in such sure 
luxury ! I would lean back against a tent 
pole, and with crossed feet I would smoke 
sweet willow bark the rest of my days,” 
sighed Manstin. 

“ My grandchild, your eyes are your 
luxury ! you would be unhappy without 

them ! ” the old man replied. 


Maris tin, the Rabbit 

“ Grandfather, I would give you my two 
eyes for your place ! ” cried Manstin. 

“ How ! you have said it. Arise. Take 
out your eyes and give them to me. Hence- 
forth you are at home here in my stead." 

At once Manstin took out both his eyes 
and the old man put them on ! Eejoicing, 
the old grandfather started away with his 
young eyes while the blind rabbit filled his 
dream pipe, leaning lazily against the tent 
pole. For a short time it was a most 
pleasant pastime to smoke willow bark 
and to eat from the magic bags. 

Manstin crrew thirsty, hut there was no 

water in the small dwelling. Taking one 

of the rawhide ropes he started toward the 

brook to quench his thirst. He was young 

and unwilling to trudge slowly in the old 

man’s footpath. He was full of glee, for it 

had been many long moons since he had 

tasted such good food. Thus he skipped 

confidently along jerking the old weather- 


Old Indian Legends 

eaten rawhide spasmodically till all of a 
sudden it gave way and Manstin fell head- 
long into the water. 

“En ! En ! ” he grunted kicking frantic- 
ally amid stream. All along the slippery 
bank he vainly tried to climb, till at last he 
chanced upon the old stake and the deeply 
worn footpath. Exhausted and inwardly 
disgusted with his mishaps, he crawled 
more cautiously on all fours to his wig- 
wam door. Dripping with his recent 
plunge he sat with chattering teeth within 
his unfired wigwam. 

The sun had set and the night air was 

chilly, but there was no fire-wood in the 

dwelling. “ Hin ! ” murmured Manstin and 

bravely tried the other rope. “I go for 

some fire-wood!” he said, following the 

rawhide rope which led into the forest. 

Soon he stumbled upon thickly strewn 

dry willow sticks. Eagerly with both 

hands he gathered the wood into his out- 


Mans tin, the Rabbit 

spread blanket. Manstin was naturally an 
energetic fellow. 

When he had a large heap, he tied two 
opposite ends of blanket together and lifted 
the bundle of wood upon his back, but 
alas ! he had unconsciously dropped the 
end of the rope and now he was lost in 
the wood! 

“ Hin ! hin ! ” he groaned. Then paus- 
ing a moment, he set his fan-like ears to 
catch any sound of approaching footsteps. 
There was none. Not even a night bird 
twittered to help him out of his predica- 

With a bold face, he made a start at 

He fell into some tangled wood where he 
was held fast. Manstin let go his bundle 
and began to lament having given away 
his two eyes. 

“ Friend, my friend, I have need of 

you! The old oak tree grandfather has 


Old Indian Legends 

gone off with my eyes and I am lost in 
the woods ! ” he cried with his lips close to 
the earth. 

Scarcely had he spoken when the sound 
of voices was audible on the outer edge of 
the forest. Nearer and louder grew the 
voices — one was the clear flute tones of a 
young brave and the other the tremulous 
squeaks of an old grandfather. 

It was Mans tin’s friend with the Earth 
Ear and the old grandfather. u Here 
Manstin, take back your eyes/’ said the 
old man, u I knew you would not be con- 
tent in my stead, but I wanted you to learn 
your lesson. I have had pleasure seeing 
with your eyes and trying your bow and 
arrows, but since I am old and feeble I 
much prefer my own teepee and my magic 
bags ! ” 

Thus talking the three returned to the 
hut. The old grandfather crept into his 
wigwam, which is often mistaken for a 


Mans tin, the Rabbit 

mere oak tree by little Indian girls and 

Manstin, with his own bright eyes fitted 
into his head again, went on happily to 
hunt in the North country. 






Oxce seven people went out to make 

war, — the Ashes, the Fire, the Bladder, 

the Grasshopper, the Dragon Fly, the Fish, 

and the Turtle. As they were talking 

excitedly, waving their fists in violent 

gestures, a wind came and blew the Ashes 

away. “Ho! ” cried the others, “he could 

not fight, this one ! ” 

The six went on running to make war 

more quickly. They descended a deep 

valley, the Fire going foremost until they 

came to a river. The Fire said “Hsss — 

tchu ! ” and was gone. “ Ho ! ” hooted the 

others, “he could not fight, this one ! ” 

Therefore the five went on the more 

quickly to make war. They came to a 

great wood. While they were going through 


Old Indian Legends 

it, the Bladder was heard to sneer and to 
say, “ He ! you should rise above these, 
brothers.” With these words he went up- 
ward among the tree-tops ; and the thorn 
apple pricked him. He fell through the 
branches and was nothing ! “ You see 

this!” said the four, “ this one could not 

Still the remaining warriors would not 
turn back. The four went boldly on to make 
war. The Grasshopper with his cousin, the 
Dragon Fly, went foremost. They reached 
a marshy place, and the mire was very 
deep. As they waded through the mud, 
the Grasshopper’s legs stuck, and he pulled 
them ofi ! He crawled upon a log and 
wept, “ You see me, brothers, I cannot go ! ” 

The Dragon Fly went on, weeping for 

his cousin. He would not be comforted, 

for he loved his cousin dearly. The more 

he grieved, the louder he cried, till his body 

shook with great violence. He blew his 


The Warlike Seven 

red swollen nose with, a loud noise so that 
his head came oh his slender neck, and he 
was fallen upon the grass. 

“You see how it is,” said the Fish, lash- 
ing his tail impatiently, “ these people were 
not warriors!” “Come!” he said, “let 
us go on to make war.” 

Thus the Fish and the Turtle came to a 
large camp ground. 

“ Ho ! ” exclaimed the people of this 
round village of teepees, “ Who are these 
little ones? What do they seek?” 

Neither of the warriors carried weapons 
with them, and their unimposing stature 
misled the curious people. 

The Fish was spokesman. With a pecul- 
iar omission of syllables, he said : “ Shu . . . 
hi pi ! ” 

“Wan! what? what?” clamored eager 
voices of men and women. 

Again the Fish said : “ Shu . . . hi pi ! ” 

Everywhere stood young and old with a 


Old Indian Legends 

palm to an ear. Still no one guessed what 
the Fish had mumbled ! 

From the bewildered crowd witty old 
Iktomi came forward. “ He, listen ! ” he 
shouted, rubbing his mischievous palms 
together, for where there was any trouble 
brewing, he was always in the midst of it. 

u This little strange man says, ‘ Zuya 
unhipi ! We come to make war!’” 

“Uun!” resented the people, suddenly 
stricken glum. “ Let us kill the silly pair ! 
They can do nothing ! They do not know 
the meaning of the phrase. Let us build a 
fire and boil them both ! ” 

“ If you put us on to boil,” said the 
Fish, “ there will be trouble.” 

u Ho ho ! ” laughed the village folk. 
“ We shall see.” 

And so they made a fire. 

“ I have never been so angered ! ” said 
the Fish. The Turtle in a whispered reply 
said : a We shall die ! ” 


He blew the water all over the people 





The Warlike Seven 

When a pair of strong hands lifted the 
Fish over the sputtering water, he put his 
mouth downward. “ Whssh ! ” he said. 
He blew the water all over the people, so 
that many were burned and could not see. 
Screaming with pain, they ran away. 

“ Oh, what shall we do with these dread- 
ful ones ? ” they said. 

Others exclaimed: “Let us carry them 
to the lake of muddy water and drown 
them ! ” 

Instantly they ran with them. They 
threw the Fish and the Turtle into the 
lake. Toward the center of the large 
lake the Turtle dived. There he peeped 
up out of the water and, waving a hand 
at the crowd, sang out, “This is where 
I live!” 

The Fish swam hither and thither with 
such frolicsome darts that his back fin 
made the water fly. “E han!” whooped 
the Fish, “ this is where I live ! ” 


Old Indian Legends 

“Oh, what have we done!” said the 
frightened people, “this will be our un- 

Then a wise chief said : “ Iya, the Eater, 
shall come and swallow the lake ! ” 

So one went running. He brought Iya, 
the Eater; and Iya drank all day at the 
lake till his belly was like the earth. Then 
the Fish and the Turtle dived into the mud ; 
and Iya said : “ They are not in me.” Hear- 
ing this the people cried greatly. 

Iktomi wading in the lake had been swal- 
lowed like a gnat in the water. Within 
the great Iya he was looking skyward. So 
deep was the water in the Eater’s stomach 
that the surface of the swallowed lake 
almost touched the sky. 

“I will go that way,” said Iktomi, look- 
ing at the concave within arm’s reach. 

He struck his knife upward in the Eater’s 
stomach, and the water falling out drowned 

those people of the village. 


The Warlike Seven 

Now when the great water fell into its 
own bed, the Fish and the Turtle came to 
the shore. They went home painted victors 
and loud-voiced singers.